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Week After UN Raid of Press Office, Anonymous Cheers from UN Cowardice Association

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- Eight days ago the UN raided Inner City Press' office; the president of the UN Correspondents Association Pamela Falk of CBS News took photographs.

  Now the two are blaming each other for being a party to the anonymous and totally improper transfer to BuzzFeed of photos taken inside the Press office during the raid, photos of the stacks of documents that at least the UN personnel were searching.

  Belatedly on March 25 the UN's Stephane Dujarric admitted to Inner City Press that “we recognize that you should have been called before entering your part of the shared office.”

  Since the desk photograph was taken from the Inner City Press part of the office, without Inner City Press present or even notified, the logical corollary of the admission is the need to disclose which individuals were brought or allowed into that position by the UN, which took photographs, and what they did with them.

  The response of Pam Falk of CBS and UNCA has been to make a legal threat to Inner City Press about even questioning her role. So what of the rest of UNCA, or of the other members of its Executive Committee?

  There is a reason, beyond anonymous social media accounts and comments, that UNCA is now becoming known as the UN Cowardice Association. What kind of media organization says nothing -- cheers and takes pictures actually -- when a journalist's office is raided and searched without notice or consent? This kind:'s UNCA Lunch of the Lost, Feb 7, 2013, credit Evan Schneider, UNPhoto. From left: OSSG's Del Buey; Denis Fitzgerald of Saudi Press Agency; OSSG's Nesirky; Melissa Kent of CBC; Sylviane Zehil of L'Orient le Jour; Tim Witcher of AFP; Ali Barada of An-Nahar; Ban Ki-moon, Kahraman Halicelik of Turkish Radio & TV; Pamela S. Falk of CBS; Lou Charbonneau of Reuters; Bouchra Benyoussef of Maghreb Arab Press; Yasuomi Sawa of Kyodo News; Masood Haider of Dawn; Unknown; Zhenqiu Gu of Xinhua; Stephane Dujarric of UN DPI

  FUNCA has proposed, or is demanding, these two (additional) changes to the Media Access Guidelines which UNCA agreed to with the UN, and which provide no due process or other protections:

"Even if the UN determines that it must enter an accredited correspondent's office under what it seemed to be an emergency, the UN must immediately notify the correspondent and allow them access to witness the entry and what is done inside.

"Even if for some reason the UN determines to take photographs inside the journalist's office, it is prohibited for the UN to share the photographs with UN personnel without a strictly interpreted 'need to know,' and it is strictly prohibited for the UN to share the photographs with any non-UN person."

  UNCA, at least its Executive Committee, have done nothing. Apparently they like having no rules, or would like to have a rule which would allow them to throw out of the UN anyone they (don't) like. But anonymously, of course! That's why it's the UN Cowardice Association. Watch this site.

Here's from the UN's transcript of its March 25 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: Last Monday, 18 March, the UN entered my office, they said it was full of trash, they didn’t call me — fine. They took photographs, and it is my understanding that they gave the photographs to other journalists here who they know have sought my exclusion and expulsion from the UN, and that these photographs then in turn appeared on the BuzzFeed website on Friday. So I wanted to know very clearly, putting aside for a moment whether when they enter a journalist’s office, they should provide at least notice to the journalist, by what possible right will the UN distribute photographs to non-UN persons?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I think you have had an answer from Stéphane Dujarric on this.

Inner City Press: He said only that the UN did not provide them to BuzzFeed and Pam Falk of UNCA [United Nations Correspondents Association] has denied that she provided them, although she was allowed to take photographs. So it is clear they are UN photographs. And I know for a fact that DPI [Department of Public Information] showed the photographs to other journalists here. So, the Stéphane answer doesn’t cut it. All it says is that they didn’t give it. So there is a middle man. But the question is, what is the right of UN journalists not to have their own office entered without their consent, photographed and by what reason and for what purpose will the UN give photographs to another person?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as I say, I think — evidently not to your satisfaction — but Stéphane Dujarric has replied, and I don’t have anything further to say on the matter.

Watch this site.

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