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UN Surveillance Camera Still Up, Palestine Video Still Down, Banning Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 23 -- Basic principles of press freedom that the UN abided by in the past are now being violated without so much as an explanation.

   In 2009 when the UN "inadvertently" installed security cameras over the press offices in its Library building, after Inner City Press exposed it, the cameras were removed. But in 2013?

The day after Inner City Press complained about a plan to ban even a small work table permitted in the past by the renovated Security Council (2-minute Q&A video here and embedded below), on May 22 a UN surveillance camera was spotted above the office door of Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  Inner City Press asked it at the UN's May 23 noon briefing, video here from Minute 12:

Inner City Press: the UN has installed a security camera on the third floor, right in front of the door of Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, that’s why I am raising it. This issue arose when there was a temporary move to above the library here. What I am wondering is whether the UN thinks it is appropriate to install security or surveillance cameras in an area used by the press to meet with sources. Is it going to be removed?

Deputy Spoksperson Del Buey: Well, Matthew, I have seen your exchange of e-mails with Stéphane Dujarric, and I believe that Stéphane Dujarric is addressing this issue, so I…

Inner City Press: Is it coming down or is it staying up?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I’ll leave it to Stéphane to explain it to you. Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Have a good afternoon.

  In an e-mail on the evening of May 22, after Inner City Press and FUNCA complained, Dujarric replied that he had gone to see the camera and would look into it.

 He also repeated what he has said on May 20, that a UN video of the speech of Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat that was erroneously cut off from broadcast by UNTV, which Dujarric supervised, would be put online.

  A full twenty four hour later, the surveillance camera was still up, and the video still not. And no explanation or update at all from Dujarric, despite Del Buey's statement at the noon briefing that "I’ll leave it to Stéphane to explain it to you." This is unacceptable. We will have more on this.

Footnote: Dujarric, as we have previously noted, is close, too close, with the old UNCA including its anonymous social media trolls. In this case, UNCA's president is claiming she didn't know about and hadn't seen the Media Access Guidelines which name UNCA as a party. She does not want her name used; thus she supports the attempted curtailment of free speech, even on substantive flyers on journalists' office doors.

 No word on surveillance cameras or other restrictions agreed to. These are Dujarric's partners: the A in the Alliance.

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