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In #MeTooUN Case in India Request to Lift Immunity As Should Be Done for Roughing Up of Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR

UNITED NATIONS, July 31 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on May 14 in Vienna, before in July he had Inner City Press roughed up and now banned from the UN for 28 days and counting (Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II; UK Independent here), told UN staff that sexual exploitation and abuse is not relevant, only sexual harassment is.

This statement was made amid allegations of physical sexual abuse by UNAIDS' Luiz Loures, and the purchase of sex by a D1 UN official in Somalia. Are those cases of harassment? One that is, which the UN system keeps trying to cover up, is the case of Prashanti Tiwari at UNFPA in India. Most recently she has discovered that a UN Department of Safety and Security officer named has tried to interfere in her case. She informed UNFPA - more on this soon - and the Indian government, as obtained by Inner City Press: I am writing to you in a state of utter shock and disbelief and want you to look into my complaint seriously. There has been serious flaws and misleads by UNFPA on my complaint against Diego Palacios and Ena Singh on charges of sexual abuse, exploitation, harassment, criminal conspiracy and intimidation. I am afraid if MEA does not act with sternness now, it will be too late and justice will never be given to an Indian citizen, whom our Honourable Minister calls "Bharat ki Beti".
Please note 1. A security officer from UN by the name of Mr Dayanand has been approaching and contacting the Bihar Police Investigation Officer in my F.I.R against Diego Palacios and Ena Singh. Sir why are they contacting the IO.
2. When Bihar police was acting swiftly, MEA asked the Bihar police to approach UN officials through MEA, and I have seen your letter to that effect. If that is the process, how come UN can contact the Bihar Police and that too the Investigation officer directly? Just because they are UN can they do anything against me and
that too in my own country? They are simply influencing the witnesses and evidences and you need to stop this.
3. This security officer was misleading the Bihar Police by saying that the letter (giving permission to interview the UNFPA staff,where only one name is mentioned out of three) is from MEA, Whereas the letter was on the letter head of UNFPA and had the logo of UNFPA. So why was he misleading and misguiding the Bihar
Police? This conversation is recorded.
They have not given permission to interrogate the accused than what is the point in the investigation. Arent they impeding the criminal investigation as well by not giving police the access to the accused. Even the permission given to interview the witness is so protective and controlled that it will not result in fair and an honest disposition. How can MEA be silent on this gross abuse of judicial processes.
4. The letter mentions that the internal investigation is over on 9 May 2018. So where is the report? Why was the UN security officer approaching the IO of Bihar Police directly?
5. I requested the UNFPA investigators to share the statement of the accused with me to offer my counter. UNFPA replied that it is not in their policy to share the statement of the accused with the complainant. I asked them to share the relevant policy. They shared UNFPA Disciplinary Framework where there was no mention of such a clause. I checked with the UNFPA and they replied that yes it is not in their policy but is a practice. Sir, these contradictions and flip flops are all documented.
6. The entire approach of UNFPA and the UN system is to witch hunt the complainant and bury the case under the carpet. I have met with so many women who
have faced this trauma in UN and no justice is ever going to come from them as is also evident from their flip flop statements, misinformation and attempts to influence criminal investigation as well.
7. Till date MEA has been unable to support me or stand with me despite the assurances by our Minister. I only went to their internal investigation because my government (MEA) has asked me to that. ...I do not have any trust in UNFPA and I hope after reading this your faith on them will also be shaken. Please act. Thanks
Prashanti Tiwari."

Now on July 31, Code Blue has written an open letter to UNFPA, including that "The only way to rectify this situation is to immediately and without reservation: Order UNFPA personnel to desist from making any further determinations relating to immunity and taking actions that are outside the stated policies and practices of the United Nations.
Request the Secretary-General exercise his right and duty to make a determination of whether immunity applies for the accused and witnesses in this case and ask that he lift their immunities without delay for the purpose of cooperation with the justice process.
Commit to full cooperation with Indian police investigators under conditions of confidentiality and impartiality as required by law, lifting all restrictions on interviews by Indian authorities.
Promptly investigate and sanction every member of your staff who has taken part in the multiple bad-faith and coercive acts that we have listed above." We'll have more on this - and on the obvious need for immunity to be lift in connection with the roughing up a journalist inside the UN, twice, seemingly with the green light by the very person controlling the lifting of immunity, or his spokesman.

Previously, Inner City Press asked the UN to explain, below - and then was informed by sources in Vienna that the #MeTooUN problem there is wider than heretofor reported. An abrupt resignation at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, of Tero Varjoranta, was by some like Reuters linked to Trump's pull out from the Iran JPCOA deal. But Inner City Press is exclusively informed it is more tied to an incident witnessed by many, and inquired into by press pursuing the impunity in the UN system for sexual harassament and abuse. Inner City Press' source, understandably afraid of retaliation in Guterres' UN (which continues to restrict Inner City Press) says, "at a senior management retreat at the start of the year, the Deputy Director General  was seen to publicly 'kiss a female subordinate long and hard' and then was seen retiring to the bed chamber with the female person. Nonetheless, Amano approved a contract extension for the DDG subsequently. An investigative journalist from [a] magazine pursuing the #MeToo syndrome in the UN system visited Vienna and was made aware of this incident along with other previous incidents involving safeguards staff and female subordinates. Why the DG asked for the resignation now remains a mystery. In my view the DG also should resign for his cover up - but he is laying the ground for a fourth term citing DPRK denuclearization." If the Director General urged the exit in order to cover up, is he little more than another Michel Sidebe, the UNAIDS director whose resignation is being sought? And what does Guterres support of Sidibe, and oblivious or worse junket through this UN killing field say about him? On May 17, Inner City Press asked Guerres' deputy spokesman, UN transcript here, Inner City Press: Earlier this year, I asked a number of questions about UNFPA in India and the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against a Diego Palacios there and there's just been a large press conference of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in India, both saying that the…  asking that the Secretary-General remove immunity from Mr. Diego Palacios and also tying it into the situation at UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme against HIV/AIDS) with Michel Sidibé, but I wanted to know an update from you.  They seem to say at this press conference that Mr. Palacios hasn't really even been interviewed, that there's not…  that the UN hasn't acted in any way on this detailed allegation of sexual harassment.  Are you aware of what UNFPA has done, if the Secretary-General is aware of and may act on this request that immunity be removed, particularly given the inaction by the UNFPA?

Deputy Spokesman:  As far as I'm aware at this stage, it remains in the hands of the UN Population Fund, and they're the ones who are looking into this, and we'll leave it in their hands.

Inner City Press:  Recently, there was an abrupt resignation of a Deputy Director General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in Geneva, Tero Varjoranta, and we've been hearing various reasons for it, and since the Secretary-General was just in Vienna, is he aware of any quote "#MeToo issues” at IAEA, and if so, what did he do while he's there?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't really have any comment to share on this.  As far as I'm aware, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that he had stepped down for personal reasons, and so that is the information we have on that."
After that exchange, UNFPA in India said its investigation is over; the victim learned of this by reading the newspaper. On May 18 Inner City Press asked the UN's Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on sexual harassment, I wanted to ask you this.  I had asked you yesterday about the case at UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) in India and since then there's been a development that I was not aware of at the time.  The case of Prashanti Tiwari and what she said and Diego Palacios, who's the UN official, and since your answer yesterday, it's reported that the UNFPA office in India says that the probe is over and the findings are awaited, and so the complainant had been told that she would be told and finds…  and is pretty surprised by that, given how little she's been spoken to.  So I wanted to know, one, is it true?  Is it your understanding that the probe is over?  Two, is the probe only by UNFPA or by OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services)?  And two, how is this a kind of victim-centred approach if the victim reads about it in a newspaper?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, as I had mentioned yesterday, the matter is in the hands of the UN Population Fund.  We'll await and inform you of any information that we get from them about this, but the matter is in their hands and it will be up to them to inform you about what stage they are at in this.

Inner City Press: Is there some minimum standard for what victim-centred means?  I'm asking because the Secretary-General has made a big deal about this saying how he's talking to all of his heads of agencies so here's an agency that announced to a newspaper that the probe is over.  Is this consistent with his approach?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, my UNFPA colleagues have assured me they were looking into this and they've been doing this for some time now." Really.
Guterres' statement was made at a staff Town Hall meeting for which he was 45 minutes late. After he said it, a staff member complained that her application to set up a #MeToo club had been denied and would Guterres help? He did not say yes. So on May 15 in New York, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: At yesterday's town-hall meeting in Vienna, one of the questions from the floor was from a self-described victim of sexual harassment within the UN system, and she asked Secretary-General whether he supported the idea of a "me too" club, I guess, within the UN in Vienna.  He didn't seem to say yes.  He seemed to say, well, if I understand it better.  She said, do you support it, and they just moved on.  Can you say now does the Secretary-General support the idea?  She was apparently rejected by the UN in Vienna to set up this, such a club.  Does he support that idea, and will he follow up with the staff member who asked him this explicitly in the town-hall meeting?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first, we are trying to get input from all staff about what needs to happen in order to deal more effectively with sexual harassment, including through a survey of staff, and so we will try to evaluate what staff broadly say and see what steps need to be taken." Oh.
Guterres also on May 14
said his attempted reform of the UN development system had "passed silence," with but without assessed contributions. On May 15 Inner City Press also asked Haq: He also seemed to say that, I don't know if that the assessed contributions, that the reform of the development system had passed through silence procedure; it still has not been voted on, but he seemed to say that it's passed, but without the Resident Coordinator system being funded through assessed contributions.  What is his plan, given that it seems like that he thinks that now it's going to be approved by the General Assembly, hasn’t passed through, what is the plan to actually fund these resident coordinators?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first, we will see what the final results are once the Member States agree on it.  We hope in the coming days we will be able to provide some details about what the development reform is about. "
Back on May 14 i
n New York at the UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if Guteres doesn't think the Loures cases is about sexual abuse, beyond harassment. Haq seemed to say Guterres uses these terms based on the identify of the victim, not the use of force or economic pressure. #MeTooUN? 
Days after first banning the Press from his photo ops with Al Sharpton and new Political Affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo then prohibiting Inner City Press' livestreaming of a photo op with Finland's foreign minister even though UN Television shot video and audio there, the UN in Vienna is promoting this, with no mention if Periscope is allowed or not:

1. Photo opportunity with the Secretary-General and the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 12.55 p.m. please arrive by 12:30 p.m.
Venue: Austrian Chancellery, Marmoreksalon, Chancellery

2. Joint press stakeout with the Secretary-General and the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 2.15 p.m.
Venue: Austrian Chancellery, Grauer Ecksalon, Chancellery

3. Photo opportunity with the Secretary-General and the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 2.35 p.m.
Venue: Hofburg, Ballhausplatz, 1010, Vienna

4. Joint press stakeout with the Secretary-General and the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 3.10 p.m.
Venue: Hofburg, Ballhausplatz, 1010, Vienna

5. Photo opportunity with the Secretary-General and the Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 3.30 p.m., please arrive by 3 p.m.
Venue: Austrian Foreign Ministry, Minoritenplatz 8, 1010 Vienna

6. Photo opportunity for the arrival of the Secretary-General at the Vienna International Centre

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 4.10 p.m., please arrive by 3.45 p.m.
Venue: Plaza, Vienna International Centre

  Guterres' lead spokesman (speechwriter?) Stephane Dujarric appeared to be with him, kissing cheeks in Vienna. And what of the growing #MeTooUN issues while he is in Vienna? Is Guterres going to take his absurd restrictions on and censorship of the Press on the road? Or create a double standard where the restrictions apply only inside UN headquarters? How long will he continue his rote expressions of support for UNAIDS' Michel Sidibe, who threatened staff with retaliation for speaking about against Luiz Loures? And given the statements, when will Guterres have to start recusing himself? Watch this site. Last month Guterres slightly delayed his trip to Saudi Arabia, but not by much. After accepting a $930 million check from the Saudi Crown Prince and in remarks not mentioning the civilians deaths caused by Saudi bombing of Yemen, now Guterres has delivered again, remarks praising Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism work. Some find it ironic; some call this trip "Blood Money II." But duty called. Before he left, Guterres who refused actually pointed Press questions with  dismissive wave of the hand, delivered a 20 minute interview to Saudi aligned media. Now there, he is quoted with more praise of Saudi, by the Saudi Press Agency (to which his UN has given office space and full access while evicting and restricting the independent Press). The UN has yet to send out a transcript of Guterres' craven remarks quoted by the Saudi Press Agency, sending so far only a speech beginning "Your Excellency, Foreign Minister al-Jubeir, Your Excellency, Ambassador Al-Mouallimi, I want to express my deep gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous support to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, a support without which the Centre, would probably never have been able to be born. And I thank Ambassador Al Mouallimi for his able chairmanship of this Advisory Board... I recently launched the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Compact, which I signed with the heads of 36 UN entities, the INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization." INTERPOL, of course, is used by some governments to arrest or travel ban their opponents. We'll have more on this. Only a week before as Guterres took off on his trip to China, Inner City Press which has pursued the UN bribery scandals of Ng Lap Seng and now the China Energy Fund Committee asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric on April 6 if Guterres will address any of these issues during his five days in the country. Dujarric was dismissive, and ended the briefing. Video here; UN transcript here and below. This cutting off of public quesitons happened after Guterres gave a private (self) promotional interview to China's state media Xinhua, touting the trip and China as "absolutely essential" on the North Korea nuclear issue. Dujarric race off the podium made it impossible to ask him for Guterres' opinion on if the gifts given to Kim Jong Un on his recent train trip to China violated the UN's 1718 sanctions. Then again, the UN's own World Intellectual Property Organization helped on North Korea's cyanide patents without telling the 1718 Committee, and Guterres has been as hands-off with WIPO's Gurry as he has been with UNAIDS' Michel Sidibe on the sexual harassment and retaliation scandal. We'll have more on this.


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