Inner City Press

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

ICP Asks UN About Lack of Whistleblower Protections, Miranda Brown, Retaliation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, there is continuity to this UN scandal - and to the UN's failure to protect whistleblowers.

   As UN officials including Cristina Gallach, whose involvement in the scandal is detailed in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit at Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) have moved to evict Inner City Press  from the UN premises (video here) and restrict its access, Inner City Press on May 4 asked UN Under Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu about two portions of the OIOS audit. Video here, see below.
The UN Controller, with Takasu, said she is working on whistleblower protections, in light of a US Law making 15% contingent on improvements in whistleblower protection.

So on May 5, Inner City Press returned and asked Ban's spokesman about it, video here  UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, the comptroller in the… said that the UN is continuing to work on whistle-blower protections, and she cited the US law that would require a cut of funding if whistle-blowers aren't protected.  So, I wanted to ask you, today the Government Accountability Project has… has highlighted the case of Miranda Brown, who was fired from the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) as part of the Anders Kompass case.  She's asked to be reinstated.  And they have a very long analysis, but they say one line I want to ask you to respond directly to.  They say:  "In a setting such as the UN where public access to information does not exist and where virtually all operations are governed only by the opaque internal legal process of the institution itself, whistle-blowers have an absolutely crucial function."  Can you say, number one, do you… are you aware of the Miranda Brown case?  And what do you think of her firing at the time?  Two, what's the work on whistle-blower protections that the comptroller was referring to?  And do you disagree that there is, in fact, not a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] at the UN to receive information and that the internal process…

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  I think the… on Miranda Brown, I have nothing to add to what we've already said on that case.  Obviously, the… you know, whistle-blower protect… the work of whistle-blowers is very important.  I know there are efforts to improve the current policies.  When we have something to announce, I'm sure we will.  And I think the UN is… there's a lot of information that is freely available.  Now, I know there is no equivalent of the FOIA, and again, I think to… I answered that the other day, which is that it's in the hands of the Member States.

rrovements in whistleblower protection

   How was indicted Ng Lap Seng's Global Sustainability Foundation's “sponsorship” of the UN slavery memorial opening event, featuring Ban Ki-moon, accounted for in the UN budget?

  Takasu gamely said that “in-kind” contributions are not quantified or listed. If so, how many other events did Ng Lap Seng entities sponsor? Inner City Press asked how Takasu's Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Central Support Services allowed Ng Lap Seng's June 30, 2015 event in the UN Vistitors Lobby, also with no due diligence by Gallach's DPI, to go forward. Things slip between the cracks, Takasu said, indicating that he would like to tighten things up.

 So how much more slipped through the cracks? And how was Gallach allowed -- or encouraged -- to retaliate against the Press which is pursuing and asking about this story? Given that Gallach clearly should have recused itself, when will Inner City Press be restored to its shared office and Resident Correspondent accreditation status?

Inner City Press On May 2 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if any of the OIOS recommendations due April 30 had been implemented. No information has been provided. From the UN transcript:

 Inner City Press: on the audit, not the UNDP one that has not been released but on the OIOS UN audit — of the seven recommendations, four of them were to have been implemented with documentation by 30 April including the assignment of responsibility for the changing of the document by the Secretariat’s DGACM (Department of General Assembly and Conference Management), the acceptance of gifts by Secretariat staff, I could go through the other two… So I'm asking you, have these been implemented and, if so, will the documentation be made public in the spirit of transparency?

Spokesman:  I have no doubt the concerned departments have been following up with OIOS.  If I have something to share, I will.

 Nothing. Inner City Press on April 29 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman  Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: just for a simple statement… if the UN finds that a UN-paid staff member in the office of the PGA (President of the General Assembly) in fact erroneously or fraudulently had an A visa, a diplomat's visa for purposes of immunity, what does the UN do?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Matthew, I'm not going to go into hypotheticals.  We expect all UN staff members to abide by the rules, and if they don't, there are sanctions according to policy... 

Inner City Press: I end up asking you questions that you didn't ask from yesterday.  There were four or three that you said you’d get back.  This is the third.  The third has to do with is the position of the head of UNIC (United Nations Information Centre) in Brussels, a D1 or D2 position, to your knowledge?

Spokesman Dujarric:  To my knowledge, it's a D1 position.

Inner City Press:  Right.  So what would explain a person leaving a D2 position in New York for a D1 position in Brussels?

Spokesman:   Because… You know what?  I don't want to get into personal issues of people, but sometimes people make career decisions based on all sorts of different things.  I'm sure you do and I do.  Thank you.

  What the UN did not transcribe, and in fact cut from its audio, was Dujarric saying, "Matthew, that's a f*cking stupid question." But Vine here. We'll have more on this.

On April 28, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: This is related to the John Ashe case.  When people work in the PGA's office and they work for the UN, but they work for the PGA's office, are they supposed to have a G4 visa or an “A” diplomat visa?  There's a reason I'm asking this.  Some people are seconded, and supposedly, they can have then an A visa, which gives much greater immunity.  Some people are paid by the UN, and I wanted to get an answer from you whether G4…

Spokesman Dujarric:  If they are UN staff, then I would assume they're under G4 visas…

Inner City Press:  What happens if… what if somebody is a UN staff that, for some reason, for some erroneous reason, happened to have an A visa?  Would this give them immunity?

Spokesman:  I don't know.  I don't know.

  Dujarric did not come back with an answer, but should have. Inner City Press is exclusively informed that the UN allowed “visa games” in the case of John Ashe's chief of staff Paulette Bethel, who is now in the Cabinet of current PGA Mogens Lykketoft and is being lobbied to continue, with immunity, with the *next* PGA (more on that in a separate forthcoming exclusive story).

   Bethel had been an Ambassador with an “A” diplomatic visa, full diplomatic immunity. But while working for Ashe, Ban's UN paid her. Still she arranged to have an “A” visa -- significant given the corruption in which her Office was allegedly involved in.

   Now, the sources tell Inner City Press, there is a review of how Ban Ki-moon's UN has allowed for abuse of the visa (and immunity) system. On this, too, we will have more.

Back on March 11, Inner City Press reported and asked this:

  By having her position with Lykketoft, Paulette Bethel continues to have immunity. Ban Ki-moon has not waived it, despite the portrait painted of her the John Ashe indictment. She “knows where the bodies are buried,” as the phrase has it.

  And perhaps for that reason, Inner City Press is multiply informed that Bethel is lobbying for a continued immunity job with the NEXT President of the General Assembly, whether from Cyprus or Fiji.

  In fact, Inner City Press is informed, both candidates to succeed Lykketoft as PGA, Cyprus and Fiji, was lobbied to keep Bethel on -- as a D2, with full immunity -- if they win the job, and were promised (the same) votes if they do.

Now, Inner City Press is informed of new (March 11) developments regarding Paulette Bethel's immunity status.

  For now, what does this mean? Well -- did Lykketoft make the same corrupt deal? Why WOULD Lykketoft, claiming to be so different from John Ashe, keep Ashe's chief of staff on his team? Even Banned from the UN second floor where Lykketoft's office -- used to campaign for Helle Thorning-Schmidt, as Inner City Press exclusively covered -- we'll have more on this. Here.

On March 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric -- who among other things has refused to answer on lending UN Press Briefing Room, in which indictee Frank Lorenzo appeared without being listed in the Media Alert -- about this.
 Video here UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I want to return to the indictment of John Ashe, I'd asked you before, but I have more to ask about it, that the previous Chief of Staff of John Ashe, Paulette Bethel, is currently the number three official in Mogens Lykketoft's office.  And as Chief of Staff, she's listed throughout the indictment and charge sheet in the John Ashe case. I've also become aware that there's requests being made to potential new PGAs (Presidents of the General Assembly), Cyprus and Fiji, to continue her in the employment as a D-2 UN official. If a person is a UN staff member but works for the PGA's office, one, what is the status of their immunity from prosecution and testifying?  And, two, who can waive that immunity?  Is it the Secretary-General, as with other UN staff, or is there some special status for a UN staff member who works for the PGA's office?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Look, speaking not in relation to the particular case that you mentioned, because her employment and the employment of anybody in the PGA's office is up to the PGA itself, the Secretary-General has the authority to lift the immunity of any UN staff member.

Inner City Press:  Does it seem strange to you that someone listed so prominently in the indictment remains on the UN payroll? Can you describe the immunity that that obtains?  If, for example, the US Attorney's Office wanted to speak to a Chief of Staff who went to Macau, who was involved in all of these actions…

Spokesman:  I'm not going to speak to… I can't speculate…

Inner City Press:  D-2, D-2 generally.

Spokesman:  I can't speculate to the case.  I don't… I'm not privy to anything that the US Attorney may or may not be doing.  What is clear is that anyone, as far as I know, under the rank of Assistant Secretary-General, which would include D-2s, such as myself, carries functional immunity.  As a matter of principle, immunity is not there to block any criminal investigation.  Maggie?

Voice of America:  Steph, anything on Mr. de Mistura's smaller conversations

Yes, smaller conversations... There is a history, here.

 After being thrown out of the UN on two hours notice by Under Secretary General for DPI Cristina Gallach on February 19, on March 10 back in on a "non resident correspondent" "Green P" pass, Inner City Press was ordered out of the UN at 8 pm, here, as it worked on this story -- here's an Inner City Press story on Bethel and Ban Ki-moon's connection to the scandal -- in the UN Lobby.

 UNder this kind of harassment, intimidation and attempted censorship, there is only one approach: publish, publish, publish. If Bethel didn't have the immunity that comes with a UN D-2 post, what might she testify to? Who could waive her immunity?

  The new Free UN Coalition for Access -- whose sign USG Cristina "The Censor" Gallach directed to be torn down after she evicted Inner City Press from its long-time office -- seeks to open the UN and these processes - watch this site.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2016 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]