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At UN As Inner City Press Tries to Cover Guterres on Peacebuilding, UN Requires Minder, Says Closed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 – The UN Department of Public Information, acting against Press coverage of UN corruption cases, without hearing or appeal had Inner City Press physically ousted from the UN.  Audio here.

 Since then DPI's requirement that Inner City Press unlike other media have minders to stake-out public events in the UN has continued.  On March 5 Inner City Press sought to cover an event about Peacebuilding, featuring Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed. Inner City Press was told by DPI that the meeting was closed to the Press, and that it would require a minder to even stand near the entrance and try to report on it. A special blue rope was erected, which made it impossible to even try to ask a question of Amina J. Mohammed and her deputy as they wandered out, with permanent UN Security detail even inside the UN. Ironically, despite banning the Press, DPI's UNIFEED issued video - but only of Guterres speaking. And when the meeting ended, Guterres and Mohammed left by the other door, far away from where Inner City Press was required to remain while other correspondents with no questions could walk freely. To this has the UN sunk. Back on 24 October 2017, Inner City Press to cover the meeting of UN Legal Advisers and separately of Troop Contributing Countries on the Central African Republic was required unlike other correspondents to get a minder from the Department of Public Information, whose Number Two official Maher Nasser had an hour before tried to pre-empt or discourage its questions, here, and two work days ago threatened its accreditation. When the minder was ready, Inner City Press set up in front of both meetings. On CAR, it got even under surveillance comments on Antonio Guterres' performance in CAR. But then Inner City Press was told it had to leave, even as the Legal Advisers meeting continued. Inner City Press earlier on October 24 published an exclusive about France's former legal adviser Beatrice Le Frapeur du Hellen leaking documents including UN documents to then-ICC Luis Moreno Ocampo. But now the UN / DPI is banning it from speaking with other countries legal adviser, which even no-show Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom, being given Inner City Press' office, is allowed to do without a minder. This is censorship. On October 23, the work day after the UN again threatened Inner City Press' accreditation, this time absurdly for reporting what DPI official Maher Nasser said about restricting Inner City Press, and Periscoping during Antonio Guterres photo ops on the 38th floor, Inner City Press needed to cover two meetings on the UN's second floor. It therefore, unlike less present others, required a minder. First there was delay, then there was surveillance. During this, DPI's Maher Nasser blithely floated by, later to brag about a Chinese swimmer. But on the General Committee's meeting we can report that the Moldova agenda item was postponed, until December we're told. But despite that being on the record, we can't run audio under the threat of Nasser and Alison Smale's DPI. We'll have more on this. On October 18 to cover an event of Africa Week, Inner City Press was required to get a minder or escort which is not required, for example, of the Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom which rarely comes in, never asks questions. Then Inner City Press was told that it would have to leave at 11 am. This is censorship. (See October 17 video here.) On October 17 to cover an Africa Week speech by Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed at 3 pm, Inner City Press showed up well before at the DPI Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit to get the still required minder. But the office was empty, and remained so well after 3 pm despite multiple messages. Six weeks of petitions to the new head of DPI have still not been responded to. This is censorship. On October 6 to cover Mohammed's speech about changes to the development system, UNlike other journalists Inner City Press had to go get a Department of Public Information minder. Then as it covered or tried to cover the meeting, UN Security demanded to see its badge, wrote down information and conferred with others while correspondents who rarely come in and never ask questions breezed and in one case rolled by. Under these conditions, of censorship targeted for covering UN corruption, Inner City Press nevertheless was approached by a number of Permanent Representatives and other sources with concerns. Inside the meeting, the US spoke against duplication and waste; Russia demanded to know what the authority is, to shift the resident coordinators away from UNDP, citing GA document A/51/950 and GA resolution A/52/12. It's a question Inner City Press first covered, here - but is now constrained from covering. No response from the new head of DPI, Alison Smale. Another report is due in December. Rwanda as the last speaker noted Mohammed going all over to consult on these changes; good. But what about the UN's absurd and unseemly censorship? She heard, for the African Group, from Egypt to whose state media Akhbar al Yom, which rarely comes in and never asks questions, the UN is trying to give Inner City Press' long time office, and continue to restrict it. We'll have more on this.  On September 12 as Inner City Press went to cover Secretary General Antonio Guterres' speech on Dag Hammarskjold's death in the General Assembly lobby, a UN Security officer stopped it from entering, immediately after another correspondent had answered. The officer's supervisor said that "Protocol" told Security to specifically stop Inner City Press. But an official from Protocol on the scene denied it was them. So who was it? The day before, Inner City Press exclusively covered a "split" between Guterres and his deputy Amina J. Mohammed, in the murky process of picking a new leader of UNFPA; also, Inner City Press formally petitioned Guterres' new head of Global Communication (f/k/a DPI), Alison Smale, who has not responded. Or has she? This must be fixed. On August 29 as Inner City Press covered the UN Security Council debate in the run-up to an emergency meeting on North Korea, an Ambassador walked down the second floor. A slew of correspondents took off in pursuit, including "non resident correspondents" who only come in for North Korea meetings. While awaiting the end of the double standard between it and other UN-favored correspondents, it seemed obvious to Inner City Press it must be treated like other non-resident correspondents. But no - a UN Security officer in front of the ECOSOC chamber, after letting other non-resident correspondents by, stepped out and stopped Inner City Press. This is pur censorship, for covering the UN's (expanding) corruption. On August 28, as Inner City Press with its still required DPI minder / escort covering the UN General Assembly meeting on South South Cooperation, a UN Security supervisor had the DPI minder order Inner City Press to stop filming and covering - from a roped-in stakeout. When Inner City Press asked the UN Security officer for his name, he refused (so, this Vine video), finally saying "You talking to me?" then walking off. Further requests for the UN officer's / censor's name were not responded to when raised to DPI, including Darrin Farrant who's been at the right hand of three DPI Under Secretaries General in a row. Incoming USG Alison Smale is going to have to deal with this censorship, these double standards. This as UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric has refused to answer how events held in the UN by groups show to be connected to now conficted Ng Lap Seng are vetted and paid for. The UN is corrupt. "New" UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on May 25, told Inner City Press that his reform proposals are public. But Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to give Inner City Press even a copy of Guterres' budget speech, much less a chart of who he has hired on the 38th floor. Later on May 25 an NGO representative - who wrote to Dujarric to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN - was allowed through the turnstile onto the UN's second floor, where Inner City Press cannot go without one of Guterres' minders. This is a new low, after Guterres put out a statement that "on World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all." What about the UN's crackdown on the Press, without hearing or appeal, and the crackdowns of WIPO and FAO Inner City Press has asked the UN about, on before of the Free UN Coalition for Access whose sign DPI threatened to tear down, before evicting Inner City Press without a hearing or appeal? We'll have more on this. For now, 7-minute video here.

  Petition here. On the afternoon of April 26 to cover a UN Security Council meeting about peacekeeping in Africa, Inner City Press unlike other media was required to get a minder, which was not immediately available. After several Ambassadors spoke to Inner City Press, about that meeting, Western Sahara, Syria, North Korea, the UN's lack of reform and other issues, the DPI minder or escort told Inner City Press it had to leave. This as Morocco state media, that used to work for the UN, walked up and down the second floor freely, along with other correspondents. This came after Inner City Press was banned in the morning from an "open" meeting of the Burundi Peacekeeping Commission, which it covers; it asked holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric without response. While DPI "Officer in Charge" Maher Nasser's lone response has been "Matthew U have same access as 3000 other journalists," that is false. As simply one example, on April 25 when the UN Security Council met on Western Sahara, Morocco state journalists were allowed free access up and down the second floor of the UN, and Inner City Press was not. On April 26, despite claims by DPI that DSS "gives priority" at the metal detectors, there was a single long line and Inner City Press despite arriving early was late to cover the UN Security Council. It appears that the DPI executive who use accreditation as their personal or national way to settle scores don't even watch the UN noon briefing, where Inner City Press asks the most questions. Or maybe that's the reason for these ongoing restrictions and threats or worse. We'll have more on this. Another new low: after a few days of Inner City Press using a table left by the UN in the UN lobby to work, including editing videos of Antonio Guterres' spokesman's non-answered about censorship in Cameroon, on April 18 the UN Department of Public Information which evicted Inner City Press for reporting on corruption told it "multiple people" want it to stop using the table. On what basis? If UN staff and others use it? Apparently the goal is to, post-eviction, make Inner City Press disappear, or to stop it from being contacted by sources about UN corruption. A diplomat, told of DPI's "disgusting" statement Requests have been made to the top floor of the UN. Watch this site. Also, unlike other media, now Inner City Press has a "witching hour" of 7 pm, after which its pass does not work. This meant, for example, that the "Peace Is" event in the General Assembly lobby, ironically overseen by the Department of Public Information and its Officer in Charge Maher Nasser, Inner City Press could only cover until 6:56 pm, in the middle of a performance of flutes and dancers. Periscope video here. The Officer in Charge has still not substantively responded to the straight forward requests submitted to him in writing 11 days ago. We'll have more on this.

  On April 7, the annual Rwanda genocide commemoration by the UN which failed so badly in 1994 took place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. To cover it as it has in previous years, Inner City Press was required to get a DPI minder to escort it; the minder stayed while diplomats approached Inner City Press to speak, including about the UN's current failures on Burundi and Cameroon as well as Yemen and Syria. Then the DPI minder said, You have to go, and escorted Inner City Press back outside the turnstile. When the event ended Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who had sat on the podium with the DPI Officer in Charge Maher Nasser who has had before him for a week Inner City Press' formal request for restoration, gave through the turnstiles to head to the elevator. He passed, seemingly oblivious, by the very location of censorship, chatting with a staffer whose promotion Inner City Press has covered (which Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric called "despicable"). This is today's UN.

  Back on April 3, the continuing restrictions by DPI meant that after entering through the UN metal detectors and having its backpack / office searched in detail, Inner City Press has to request a DPI "minder" to stakeout the day's meeting on UN Security Council reform. As other correspondents walked by without minders, Inner City Press was behind a red rope. When a Latin American country's Permanent Representative approached Inner City Press to ask questions - ironically, one was about DPI's censorship - a UN Security official came over to "break it up." This is censorship, and has been raised.


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