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In Katowice UN Guterres Was Fine With Barring Civil Society Now Refuses Press Question On It

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

UNITED NATIONS GATE, December 14 – While UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres blathered about how civil society is to him while at the Poland COP24 meetings, many civil society groups were barred - this as Guterres has barred Inner City Press from any entry into the UN Headquarters or anywhere else in the UN for 163 days and counting. On December 13 Inner City Press in writing asked Guterres and his spokesmen Stephane Dujarric and Farhan Haq questions including "December 13-2: Since the SG was at the COP24 meetings in Poland, what is his comment on the restrictions placed on and in some cases barring of civil society groups?" By the next day, Guterres and his spokesmen had not answer this question, or any of the other 12 questions Inner City Press submitted. This despite the supposed promise by Guterres Global Communicator Alison Smale, to UN Special Rapporteur David A. Kaye and to the Government Accountability Project, that Inner City Press' written questions would be answered. Now in the UN system's ever more blatantly double talk, the very things Guterres allows or does are ostensibly criticized by UN Special Rapporteur who do not hold Guterres to account - one of them, David Kaye, wrote to Guterres' Alison Smale but never followed up. This is today's UN, and this is their statement: " UN human rights experts* have expressed concerns at reports that several human rights defenders have been harassed, arbitrarily detained and questioned for several hours by the Polish authorities at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice.
The experts said some participants who had been officially accredited to attend the event from 2 to 14 December had been denied entry to the country or prevented from travelling to Katowice.
“We are dismayed at the actions taken by the authorities to prevent free and unfettered public participation in these critical multilateral discussions,” the experts said.
UN experts have previously raised their concerns with the Polish authorities about free and full participation, specifically the promulgation of a new safety and security law which was drafted for the conference and which they said could hamper civil society’s involvement. 


“We reiterate our call to the Polish Government to immediately ensure full and effective participation and access to COP24 to all civil society representatives, and to enable all human rights defenders to gather and exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, association and peaceful assembly.”
* The UN experts: Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Joseph Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy." Then there's this: after a Malta diplomat at the UN's Marrakesh meeting on migration called PEN's Sarah Clarke, a UN consultant a "biased s**thole," Ms. Clarke said she will be complaining to UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's deputy Andrew Gilmour. She wrote:
 The completely incongruous statement of the @MaltaGov to the #GlobalCompactForMigration. As I told @AbelaCarmelo, “If you want to have any credibility  about #FreedomOfExpression you would immediately conduct a public inquiry into assassination of #DaphneCaruanaGalizia.” #UDHR70
Following our conversation, @AbelaCarmelo’s advisor called me a “biased shithole.” This is an unacceptable reprisal against civil society engaging in Hunan rights advocacy at the #UnitedNations. I am reporting this to @GilmourUN"

 Good luck with that - Gilmour did nothing in the past week as long time UN investigative media Inner City Press was barred by Antonio Guterres' security from attending and covering a UN Human Rights event moderated by Sherine Tadros of Amnesty International at which Gilmour spoke. With Gilmour set to speak in the UN on human rights day on December 10, Inner City Press responded to an invitation and was told, "Thank you for registering to attend the Human Rights Day event at the United Nations on Monday 10 December. On Monday, please come to the UN Visitors’ Gate on First Avenue opposite 45th street starting at 2pm, at which time entry passes will be distributed."

Then, past six p.m. on Friday, December 7 this from Bachelet's and Gilmour's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: "Dear Matthew, We have received notification from UN Security that your name was flagged as "BARRED" on the list we submitted for passes for Monday's event (3pm, ECOSOC Chamber). We will therefore not have a pass for you and are unable to facilitate entry.
Thank you for your interest and best regards,
OHCHR New York Office."

   Inner City Press immediately wrote back, to the sender and Bachelet and her assistant, to Andrew Gilmour and to the moderator of the event, "Particularly since you are the UN Office of the High Commissioner for *Human Rights,* did you not ask why a journalist who asks the Secretary General and his spokesmen about the killings in Cameroon, Burundi, UN corruption, UN peacekeepers' sexual abuse of civilians, and Sri Lanka, is “BARRED” from attending your human rights event - without any hearing or appeal? I will appreciate your Office's answer to this."  We'll have more on this.

 Bachelet gave a speech on October 15 in the UN's Third Committee, she emphasized a prioritization of social and economic rights and said one of the officials of her office is "on mission in Silicon Valley" in the US. There are questions about this - but Inner City Press which has covered human rights and the UN for more than a decade was for the first time banned from access a High Commissioner's speech. This has been raised repeated to Bachelet since she took office but she has so far done nothing, not even responded. Meanwhile on October 12 Cameroon, from whose Paul Biya Secretary General Antonio Guterres took a golden statue and favors in the Fifth (Budget) Committee and remains silent on the slaughter of Anglophones, was elected to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. This system is failing - but if Bachelet cannot even answer on Guterres maintaining a secret banned list including not only Inner City Press but also "political activists," then the UN has hit a new low.

   Inner City Press was never given a hearing by Smale before her August 17 letter with withdrew Inner City Press media accreditation. Nothing in it said anything about a ban from entering the UN as a person, a tourist, or in another other way. But this is what happened, without any recourse. Pure Kafka-esque censorship, by a former New York Times Berlin bureau chief to hinder coverage of the corruption of the former Portuguese prime minster Antonio Guterres, see September 23 New York Post here. What next? Watch this site.


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