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At UN, Bahrain Banning Rights Expert Mendez Slammed, Ban Defended, Falk's UNCA Circus

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 25 -- Amid renewed protest and crackdown in Bahrain, at the UN in New York on Friday Inner City Press asked the Chairperson of the UN Committee Against Torture Claudio Grossman about torture expert Juan Mendez being banned from Bahrain. Video here, from Minute 11:09.

  Grossman called it "regrettable;" his fellow panelist and chair of the Human Rights Committee Nigel Rodley went further, saying he could not think of a single good reason Mendez could be barred.

  Both were in New York for the 25th meeting of human rights treaty bodies, so Inner City Press asked them about complaints that the bodies are too slow in processing reports and individual complaints.

  Rodley agreed, saying it is painful to issue a decision on an individual's communication three or four years after it is filed, particularly if the complaint was about slow justice in the complainant's country. Yes, UN, practice what you preach: a slow decision on justice being too slow is typical of today's UN.

  Another panelist mentioned that the world spent $18 trillion to save banks since 2008, and that $50 million would save human rights (or the "human rights system," he corrected himself). Bail out, any one?

  Inner City Press asked about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's role with the bodies -- he claimed to have played a role in the case of detention in North Korea -- and about Navi Pillay only being given a half a second term as a form of discipline or censorship. Video here from Minute 34:34.

  Grossman waved off the latter question, and on the first praised Ban Ki-moon for "receiving" the treaty body chairs last November. Can you say, craven?

Footnotes: As Grossman, Radley and the other panels came into the briefing room, Pamela Falk of CBS News whispered to their handler, to be sure to get the first question. But when she got it, it was a softball: what about getting more signatures on the treaties (which she didn't name), especially the US? Video here, from Minute 1:47.

  Why did Falk come and at the end pass out her business card, demanding that of the panelists? To promote herself, sure - but as president of the UN Correspondents' Association.

 UNCA's Executive Committee has gone from trying to get the Press thrown out of the UN in 2012 to anonymous social media to that effect in 2013, while acquiescing to a reduction in media workspace in front of, and access to, the Security Council. (The Free UN Coalition for Access, for which Inner City Press offered counter-thanks, is fighting the reduction.)

  Falk comes to ask made-up question, on which she files no stories. She posted a photograph of the press conference -- with an inaccurate caption, naming people who were not on the podium. She concluded by asking of the treaty bodies had moved to send Syria to the International Criminal Court -- not their role. Video here from Minute 30:10.

  But when the UN Security Council met with Kenya about their ICC case, Falk was nowhere to be seen; nor was Louis Charbonneau her First Vice President or factotum of Reuters, which appears to not have filed a story about the Security Council session with Kenya. This is their "journalism."

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