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In Africa, Ban on Free Press, S. Sudan & Minova Follow Through Not Shown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 26 -- At the African Union in Addis Ababa, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued read-outs of meetings with the foreign ministers of Norway, Mauritania and the US (well, Secretary of State John Kerry), and with Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza.

  Of Nkurunziza, the UN says they "discussed the political situation in Burundi and the possible implications of the draft media law."

  This last phrase is vague; one notes that at the UN in New York Ban Ki-moon has agreed to a Media Access Guidelines which among other things reduced media access to the Security Council and purports to ban any substantive or critical fliers, even on journalists' office doors.

  At the last UN noon briefing on May 24, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey if Ban's office had agreed to the UN Media Access Guidelines as shown to the Free UN Coalition for Access on May 20. Yes, Del Buey said, on UN Television. Click here for that.

What ARE the "implications"?

  With Norway's foreign minister Espen Barth Eide, Ban discussed not only Syria but several African issues: "the situation in the Great Lakes, Somalia and Mali, including the deployment of MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping mission for Mali."

  Strangely not among them was South Sudan, where Norwegian Hilde Johnson leads the UN Peacekeeping mission, along with Herve Ladsous, and where civilians have been routed in Pibor and Boma and where there are also serious attacks on the independent media. Click here for Inner City Press coverage of that, including on World Press Freedom Day.

  With Hamadi Ould Baba Ould Hamadi, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, there was no mention of Western Sahara, where the UN Peacekeeping mission under Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold the post, has no human rights monitoring mechanism.

  The US proposed such a mechanism, then went back on the proposal. This not surprisingly was not mentioned in Ban's readout with John Kerry.

 But one is hoping, and trying, that Kerry when interviewed today by BBC Hardtalk is asked what the US has learned, if anything, from the US-trained 391st Commando Battalion of the Congolese Army being involved in 135 mass rapes in Minova on November 2012. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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