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New UN Sex Abuse in DRC, ICP Reports Then Asks, Connors Not Involved, UN Threatens ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee, Audio

UNITED NATIONS, November 21 – Yet more UN sexual abuse charges were quietly disclosed by the UN on November 20, allegations against "peacekeepers" from Tanzania and international civilian UN staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, photo here. This on a day where at the UN noon briefing, rather than announcing these sex abuse charges, the UN spokesman dodged Inner City Press' questions about two other UN corruption cases, the Deputy Secretary General improperly signing thousands of certificates for endangered rosewood from Nigeria and Cameroon already in China and giving a UN job to Germany's Ambassador's wife, here. What will the new "UN Victims' Advocate" Jane Connor do about these new abuses? On November 21 Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you about some new sexual abuse and exploitation, I guess, allegations.  Many of them seem to be against the Tanzanian battalion in MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo], but there's one that's listed against a civilian international, and it's listed as child rape, and it says UN pending.  And I wanted to, I guess, get some more information.  Number one, in the spirit of disclosure, is that all the information that the UN can give on a case of alleged child rape by a civilian staff member?  Two, can you say, if you won't say the nationality of the staff member, whether it's a fund, program or agency or just some further identifiers?  And, if not, when will this information be made available? Spokesman:  Hold on.  I think I have something on this.  But it may not be here.  One second.  Yeah.  What I can say on this is the following:  We're extremely concerned by this allegation of the rape of a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by an international civilian staff member working with the UN Mission there, MONUSCO, which was publicly reported on the Conduct and Discipline Unit website on Friday.  The allegation was reported by the mother of the victim to the mission's Conduct and Discipline Team earlier this month.  The event itself is reported to have occurred in 2016.  We understand that this matter was reported to the local courts in July 2017 and they are aware of the allegation.  The allegation was assessed by the Head of Mission and determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant an investigation.  Consequently, the matter was referred to the Office of Internal Oversight Services for appropriate action and to UN Headquarters with recommendation that the staff member be placed on administrative leave without pay pending investigations and the disciplinary process, if any.  The alleged minor victim has been referred to UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] for medical and psychosocial support.  The Mission will continue to monitor her well-being and maintain appropriate contact to ensure that her needs are met by the service provider as necessary. Inner City Press: Thanks.  Has the official Jane Connors, the victims' advocate, taken any action in this case? Spokesman:  "The actions that we have to report on are the ones that I've just mentioned." So, no. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on October 18 told Inner City Press he takes sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers very seriously. But when his Department of Public Information on October 19 promoted his new Peacekeeping website, Inner City Press found that the data about abuse and exploitation cases is buried, requiring at least four clicks even if one knows the route. Inner City Press raised this - and DPI's Number Two official Maher Nasser's response was “Seriously Mathew? The link to the Conducts & Discipline Unit is on home page, how is that hiding a choice? Can you ever be positive?” Actually, you'd have to know that the term “Standards of conduct” in a drop-down menu under “What Is Peacekeeping” is UN code for peacekeeper sexual abuse. Then after reading some propaganda, a link promises to take you to “up to date statistics.” But this leads to more propaganda, “Serving with Pride,” to the side of which is a box labeled “Statistics.” But clicking that still doesn't take you to the data. While DPI's Nasser wants - demands - that the press be “positive” or face eviction and restriction, it is hard to be positive about this. It is also inconsistent with the claims of commitment and transparency by Antonio Guterres, ostensibly Nasser's boss. Nasser proceeded, the day after Guterres didn't answer - his spokesman said Guterres didn't hear - Inner City Press' question about mass killing in Cameroon, to say “Not healthy to be so angry and so negative. But it seems that's your choice!!” Yes, as it doesn't hear about (some) mass killings, the UN wants a press corps that is positive, and evicts and restricts the “too negative” media. Under Nasser and now apparently his successor, it is a conflict of interest to allow officials who view their jobs as procuring positive coverage of the UN to be the ones to control the access and work space (or not) of independent, critical media. We'll have more on this - including because Nasser, the day after Inner City Press raised those questions on October 19, had delivered to Inner City Press a threat to its accreditation, then denied it the ability to even ask a question at the next event he moderated. The UN is a lawless and wasteful organization which often covers up for genocides like in Rwanda, Srebrenica, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and now Cameroon. On the small but related scale its Department of Public Information has engaged in censorship of the Press raising these abuses, under Cristina Gallach then three time loser Maher Nasser and at least until now Alison Smale. Gallach, who did no due diligence of convicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng's illegal events in the UN, evicted Inner City Press after it asked her about her links to Ng. Her interim replacement Maher Nasser, who applied to replace her but lost out again, never even replied to Inner City Press' written request to reverse the restrictions in April 2017. He claims it was responded to orally. So here is audio of his Kafka-esque "response" in August 2017, saying that because Inner City Press once offered to mop the floors of the UN in order to continue having access to puruse the Cameroon or other stories. He said the offer was an admission justifying 18 now 20 months of restrictions. He false claimed he would look into the no-show status of the Egyptian state media his DPI is trying to give Inner City Press' office to. He did nothing in two months. Why? He has taken, with typical UN impunity, to publicly deriding Inner City Press for not being “positive” enough, not only amid the genocide the UN allows and covers up for, but also his DPI's restrictions which hinder Inner City Press from covering it. He lost out to Alison Smale, but apparently has passed along his dubious “wisdom” and prejudice, along with others to be named, to Smale. Smale has not responded in six weeks to Inner City Press' two petitions. On October 18, when Inner City Press politely asked her if she had received the petitions, said yes and she acknowledged the need to show the “courtesy” of a response from her Department. Meaning Nasser, noted troller? More than twenty four hours later, still no response of any kind, even as the Egyptian state media to which Gallach and Nasser purported to give Inner City Press' office, Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef, didn't even come into the building, where Akhbar al Yom has asked not a single question for the entire time, more than a year. This is what Nasser means by positive: silent or bought. The irony is, if the UN weren't so lawlessly vindictive Inner City Press wouldn't even know the names of most of these people. So are they serving Antonio Guterres? We'll have more on this. Senior UN officials claim they care about and want coverage of crisis like those in Cameroon, then block Press coverage while taking public money while indulging their prejudices. More than a month ago Inner City Press wrote to UN Department of Public Information chief Alison Smale explaining how the eviction and restrictions imposed by her predecessor Cristina Gallach would result in censorship and a reduction in coverage during the General Assembly Week. There was no response - and has been none since, such that Inner City Press was hindered on October 17 as it covered (Southern) Cameroonians raising questions bout Secretary General Antonio Guterres' praise of Paul Biya, UN cover up of his abuses prospectively during the Central Africa trip Smale wants to spin. And Guterres and his team know, his office has confirmed receipt of this, the Inner City Press has asked the UN "Spokesman, as is relevant here, about the UN Department of Public Information, about human rights violations in Cameroon unacted on by the UN, and about the UN's lack of transparency as identified not only by the Press but also the UN's own Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. The answers were UNsatisfactory, and UN DPI has been entirely unresponsive... Other correspondents could walk around freely; I had to get an escort and minder. Meanwhile my long-time work space sat, for yet another day, unused by the Egyptian state media DPI has tried to assign it to, which rarely comes in and never asks questions. I have repeatedly written to the new head of DPI, without any response at all. I was told that since the former USG evicted Inner City Press, reversal would have to await the new USG. I waited, I wrote, I waited - nothing. Nothing at all. Nor now have there been answers about DPI's planned hiring of outside consultants, and if these would be used in the planned “good-news” coverage of the upcoming trip to the Central African Republic. These are all questions that should be answered, and the Press asking about this, and about Cameroon, Yemen, Myanmar, Western Sahara, Kenya and the UN “irregularities” exposed in the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe case should not be targeted and treated differently than other correspondents here. It is a conflict of interest for DPI, admittedly under Smale promoting your image, to control and limit the access of the critical independent press. There should have been rules - the meeting I covered 20 months ago was nowhere listed as closed, I got no hearing or appeal - and it should all now be belatedly reversed, Inner City Press restored to its work space in S-303 and resident correspondent returned." 24 hours, the clock continues to tick. From the very first day of the GA week, an event about migration no less, Inner City Press was arbitrarily banned. And on the Friday of the Week, Smale's DPI minders told Inner City Press it could not, as other less active correspondents could, speak to participants in the UN's (politicized) meeting about the humanitarian situation, just as it was also restricted in its coverage of Cameroon and other issues. This was raised to Smale the next day, when UN officials and diplomats were working (although many of Smale's "resident correspondents" like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom, Pakistan's Daily Dawn and others didn't even come in). But again from Smale, no reforms, no response. Perhaps this was due to the elections in her former beat, Germany. But these issues are her responsibility; she is being paid for this. Here's our September 23 Smale-mail: "Dear Under Secretary General Smale: This follows up on the request / petition I sent you earlier this month, before the now-concluding UN General Assembly High Level Week. My unjustifiable lack of resident correspondent status, which I had asked be restored before the High Level Week, has resulted for example in me being barred from speaking with attendees outside yesterday's Yemen humanitarian meeting. Resident Correspondents, including those who rarely come in and never ask questions, like Akhbar al Yom, were given access to passes to the 1B level, without escorts. For me, whose resident correspondent accreditation was taken without a hearing or appeal for pursuing the UN bribery story by covering a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room, two separate escorts or minders were required to access the Yemen meeting. While inside the meeting I was told I could stakeout / wait outside the meeting and speak to participants as they left, my DPI minders told me I could not speak with anyone, even diplomats who wanted to speak. I reiterate my formal request to be restored to my longtime shared office S303 (I am willing to help rarely present Akhbar al Yom to relocate to the bullpen or wherever else), and to have my resident correspondent accreditation restored, early this coming week. I can provide any further information, by email, phone or in person. (By contrast, the only event Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom “covered” was the SG - Sisi bilateral, as UNCA “pool;” when I asked DPI's MALU for basic information such as who attended or was observed at the bilat, none was provided.) For your information during this High Level Week I put questions to the foreign minister of Libya, the UN's Libya envoy, the UK minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt (on Yemen), the head of UNRWA, the head of UNHCR (on Burundi), SRSG Louise Arbour (on Libya) and, as you saw, the EC minister and Deputy Secretary General. More could be said, but this should be enough. To continue to restrict my movements in the UN more than other journalist, to keep me out of my long time office such that I can barely and sometimes not download and edit video of these Q&A, in favor of a no-show, no-question state media is UNjustifiable. It should be reversed today, or early next week. Today Saturday I am writing this while covering the Secretary General's bilateral meetings on the 27th floor, if you are in the UN and need any further information. If you don't mind, please confirm receipt of this email." Not even that. Now the UN Security Council won't even hold a single Yemen meeting in September, despite its members' professions of concern. When a Yemen meeting during the UN General Assembly week was held at 8 am on September 22, new UN Relief Chief Mark Lowcock introduced as speakers the foreign ministers of Sweden and the Netherlands, representatives of Japan and the UAE, and the UN's dubious envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed. While billed as a humanitarian meeting, the UAE spoke without irony about outside interference. (Yemen's representative spoke in Arabic; Inner City Press streamed Periscope video). To get to the meeting, held in UN Conference Room 5, Inner City Press unlike other no-show reporters like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom was required to get a UN escort or minder, who told Inner City Press it could not ask questions or speak with anyone. This despite UN OCHA telling Inner City Press it could wait outside and speak to people as they left. So the UN's retaliatory eviction of Inner City Press for covering UN corruption now results in it, unlike the Saudi and pro-Saudi media in the meeting, being unable to speak to the participants. This is today's UN - it has been directly raised to the new head of DPI, Alison Smale, without response as she focuses on the election on her previous beat, Germany. Now this, from the UNSC: "The briefing and consultation on Yemen is postponed for next month and we'll have no meeting scheduled tomorrow afternoon." Pathetic. As it this: while Canada joins The Netherlands at the UN in Geneva in calling for an investigation of possible war crimes in Yemen including the Saudi-led coalition's killing of civilians, Canada has continued a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference at the UN on September 21, Inner City Press went early, intending to ask him to explain this incongruity or seeming hypocrisy. Trudeau's spokesman announced that the questioners had been “pre-determined,” but did not explain how. So in a lull after what the spokesman called the last question - would Trudeau be a mediator on Venezuela - Inner City Press asked about Canadian arms sales to Saudi while calling for a probe. At first Trudeau said he was happy to answer the question. Then he said no, he would not reward “bad behavior,” and instead reached out for question in French about day care. (Inner City Press notes that pre-determining questioners is bad behavior. Apparently the CBC journalist who was given the first question agreed to it; the organization only the day before sent an Egyptian state media correspondent as the lone “pooler” in Secretary General Antonio Guterres' meeting with General Sisi.) Eearlier on September 21 when UK minister Alistair Burt came in front of the UN Security Council to speak about accountability for Daesh in Iraq, Inner City Press deferred to a timely question about the referendum in Kurdistan. Then during  lull - identical to that in which it put its question to Trudeau - Inner City Press asked Burt about his quote, about accountability for the bombing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led Coalition with UK bombs, that "Our view is that it is for the Coalition itself, in the first instance, to conduct such investigations. They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations.” Inner City Press asked how he can say this, given that the Saudis have investigated less than five percent of the killings. Video here. Burt's answer focused on the peace process - what peace process? At least Burt answered, and did not like Trudeau try to call merely asking the question in a lull "bad behavior" - we'll have more on this.


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