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UN Retaliation Shown By NBC But Guterres Airbrushed Out Spreading Corruption from UNHCR System Wide

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A

UNITED NATIONS GATE, April 7 – The extent to which the UN retaliates against those who report on its corruption is coming into focus, today with an NBC News story about UNHCR, the UN Refugee agency. The recount the travails of Gratien Zimy Ntezimisi, who reported to UNHCR in Kampala the outright corruption in the camp he worked in. They turned him over to police, cut off his benefits, did everything possible to silence him. But what NBC despite the length of the article and citation to Kenya and Yemen fails to say is that this culture of corruption and retaliation was stoked at UNHCR by then High Commissioner, now overall UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Guterres is such a retaliator that he not only cheers on his system's officials at FAO and WIPO and ghoulishly Michele Bachelet's UN Office of Human Rights - Guterres has the Press which asks about these roughed up and banned, now 277 days and counting. A fish rots from the head - and in this case, UNHCR's corruption is attributable to Guterres, who as Secretary General has for example sold out Anglophone Cameroonians for favors in the UN Budget Committee and banned the Press that dared report on it? As banned Inner City Press reported on 12 September 2018, Guterres has met at least twice with Sudan's Omar al Bashir, despite him being being indicted for genocide. But there's more, the emerging profile Inner City Press alluded to in that article it has heard more (than this) about from whistleblowers and it is not a pretty picture:

Guterres met Bashir when he was visiting Sudan as High Commissioner for Refugees in January 2012. He was campaigning for UN Secretary General already then. The Turkey-EU agreement on refugees, the Kenya-Somalia-UNHCR agreement on returns, the meeting with Bashir, the lack of almost any criticism of rich countries when he was still High Commissioner… Guterres wanted to become SG and he massively compromised on UNHRC’s mandate in order to get there. Regarding the Kenya-Somalia-UNHCR agreement, Kenya threatened to kick UNHCR out of the country if it did not sign the agreement. Hence UNHCR signed an agreement on return when the situation for a return for most Somalis was still unthinkable. It is unthinkable still today. Ostensibly the agreement only talks about "voluntary return," not forced return. But by signing an agreement on returns Guterres' UNHCR signaled to the world that it could start thinking about returning people to Somalia. It was UNHCR’s representative in Kenya who signed the agreement eventually. But it was Guterres that took the decision - knowing very well that he would have never had the support from Kenya and others in East Africa if UNHCR had not signed the agreement. It is similar to the way he backed down - or ingratiated himself up - to Cameroon to get support in the UN Budget Committee which Cameroon's Tommo Monthe chaired, for which Guterres sold out the Anglophones in the North-West and South-West Regions and now in Nigeria. This is a pattern.

Regarding the Turkey-EU agreement, Guterres' UNHCR did not criticize this agreement despite the fact that it provides for the forced return of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey, which cannot be considered a safe third country. It is thus highly questionable whether this agreement is in line with international law, namely the refugee convention. Online you will find a lot of legal opinions on this agreement where International legal experts state that the agreement violates International law. UNHCR only said this. This happened just before Guterres' election. If he had criticized the agreement, he would have never become Secretary General.  Another sell-out.

What happened under Guterres in UNHCR is a significant shift from protection to assistance. UNHCR less and less advocated on behalf of refugees and more and more started to assist states in providing assistance. This way Guterres made the organization grow exponentially and his own star shine, to the detriment of those he was meant to protect, the refugees. This is Guterres and his M.O., now including censorship and even roughing up of the Press that asks him about it and raises it.

When Guterres came to the field, he would usually get talking points from the local offices. Most of the time Guterres ignored these talking points entirely. He would not speak out on behalf of refugees, but instead always state the same message: "Thank you for having welcomed refugees until today, UNHCR will continue to assist your country.“ That’s it. No criticism, no advocacy, just honey to malafactors.

His next plan is to get reelected at UNSG. The biggest danger for him now is that Trump vetoes him. This explains many of his recent actions. It is UNacceptable, a final straw in the killing of the UN. Guterres is an undertaker, as well as being a censor.

  This past week, banned by Guterres from attending and asking questions at the UN noon briefing as I had done under Kofi Annan (Rest in Peace) and even Ban Ki-moon, on September 10 I submitted questions in writing to Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, to lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, to Guterres' e-mail address and that of his Deputy and Global Communicator Alison Smale, including this one: “September 10-1: Please confirm or deny that Antonio Guterres has met with Omar al Bashir. Separately, if he met Bashir in 2012, and if so why, and when the ICC was informed.”

Not that day but the next, Dujarric replied adding his response in capital letters: “September 10-1: Please confirm or deny that Antonio Guterres has met with Omar al Bashir. Separately, if he met Bashir in 2012, and if so why, and when the ICC was informed. NO CONFIRMATION.”

This seemed strange, given Haq's answer on 29 January 2018, so on September 12 Inner City Press asked, “September 10-1 / Sept 12-4: Please confirm or deny that Antonio Guterres has met with Omar al Bashir. Separately, if he met Bashir in 2012, and if so why, and when the ICC was informed. You wrote, “NO CONFIRMATION.” But here was Deputy Spokesman Haq's answer to me on 29 January 2018 (before I was banned from attending and asking questions at briefing 71 days now): Video here,  picked up here, among other places.

So how can you say “no confirmation”? Is your Office / SG Guterres retracting what was said at the 29 Jan 2018 briefing?” 

After conducting an empty briefing from which Inner City Press was banned by Guterres and Smale, and that again had no a single question on Africa (in fact, one Dujarric's and Haq's favored interlocuters used the Press-less briefing to say that the corruption of Ng Lap Seng and the UN Office of South South Cooperation was “fabricated”), Haq sent this: "Regarding the 29 January 2018 noon briefing, I made clear at that time, as the transcript itself shows, that there was no formal scheduled meeting; they were in the same (large) venue at the same time:

Question [Inner City Press]:  And did he meet [Omar al] Bashir? This reported… I heard your litany of countries and I couldn't quite keep up with them, and I didn't see a readout. But the Foreign Minister of Sudan has said that he met with Omar al-Bashir, who's indicted by the ICC (International Criminal Court), as you know, for genocide and war crimes. Did he meet with him? And what… what… is this a change of policy?

Spokesman:  It's not a change of policy. They were both at the same summit. In that context, they did meet with each other on the grounds of the sort of operational necessity that does allow the Secretary-General to meet from time to time with him. That doesn't obviate the need, of course, for respect of the International Criminal Court.

 [Inner City Press] Question:  But was Sudan in the list of countries that you read out just at the top of the briefing? And if not, why not?
Spokesman:  It was not, because it was not a formal scheduled meeting."

  So apparently Guterres and his enablers believe he can meet with alleged war criminals as long as he doesn't write it down on his schedule. We have yet  more details on the 2012 meeting(s). By banning Inner City Press they have tried to make its reporting more difficult. This is censorship - but the reporting is not impossible and will continue. Watch this site.


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