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Rapporteur Says UN Lacks Transparency on Whistleblowers, UNCA Pulls Rank

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- When UN Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression David Kaye held a press conference before his appearance before the UN's Third Committee on October 22, his topic was whistleblower protection, on which the UN itself is particularly weak.

 When called on, Inner City Press asked Kaye about retaliation against UN official Anders Kompass for blowing the whistle on alleged child rapes by French troops in the Central African Republic. Video here and embedded below.

  Kaye said he would avoid speaking about individuals cases, but said that the UN suffers from a lack of transparency. He should know that while UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous is listed in the Kompass ruling(s) of the UN Dispute Tribunal as trying to get Kompass fired, Ladsous has refused to answer on his role, other than a terse “I deny that.”

 Likewise, Ladsous has claimed the right to refuse to respond to ANY Press questions, in which the UN Spokesperson's Office has taken to backing him up. (When Ladsous did speak, he linked the peacekeepers' rapes to “R&R,” here.)

  Earlier this month, Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked if UN Peacekeeping's MONUSCU mission had any comment or action on Burundian journalist Egide Mwemero being silenced then arrested in Eastern Congo. So far, none. These are cases Kaye could work on.

  Free speech ironies at the UN were on display right in Kaye's press conference. The representative of the UN Correspondents Association, which among other things took funds from now-indicted David Ng's South South News and then give it an award, and gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon at Cipriani, demanded to ask the first question, even claiming that the UN Department of Public Information has granted this “right” in writing. Where?

  In fact, UNCA leaders tried to get the Press thrown out of the UN, with missives to DPI, one of which (from Voice of America) was released under the US Freedom of Information Act, another of which Reuters' bureau chief has gotten Banned from Google on the claim that his anti-Press complaint was copyrighted. Is this is whistleblower? UNCA has become the UN's Censorship Alliance. We and the new Free UN Coalition for Access will have more on this, and on free speech issues through the UN system.


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