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On Cameroon Inner City Press Asked UK About May 13 UNSC Arria No Answer So FOI Request

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NYP

UNITED NATIONS GATE, May 11 – The UK which bragged about its New Age hydro carbons deal with Paul Biya's Cameroon now has refused to answer basic Press questions about Cameroon, even about a UN Security Council Arria meeting which it is co sponsoring. So Inner City Press has again submitted a Freedom of Information request to the UK FCO, below.

  After Paul Biya who has ruled Cameroon for 36 years on January 28 had his opponent Maurice Kamto arrested, Inner City Press again asked
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his spokesmen for their comment and action, if any. This came after Guterres had Inner City Press roughed up on 3 July 2018 after it interviewed Biya's Ambassador about the two men's Budget Committee deals and banned from the UN since - Guterres even tried to get Inner City Press banned from the Park East Synagogue, here, which was denied / dodged by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who put up then took down a podcast in which he brags about his "mutually assured destruction" relationship with journalists, here. After whispers from the UN Security Council about a belated UNSC meeting on May 13, early on the morning of May 6 Inner City Press submitted written questions, this one to the UK Mission to the UN which previously withheld all Cameroon documents in response to a request under the UK FOIA: "Press Q re Cameroon, any UNSC meeting, UK's Mission's position on that and continued banning of Inner City Press from entering UN - To Stephen Hickey, mission, Jaclyn Licht, Amy Quantrill, others: this is a Press request to the UK Mission as a member of the UN Security Council to be informed this morning of your Mission's knowledge of any upcoming UNSC meeting about Cameroon of any kind, including Any Other Business informal consultations, whether May 13 or any other date. Inner City Press wrote to the UK Mission about this previously, including in August 2018, and pursued its FOIA request to the ICO.     Also, what is the UK's position on the situation there and what will / would it seek to accomplish at any UNSC meeting (and if there is no meeting, why not). Relatedly, please explain how it is legitimate for the UN to bar entry to Inner City Press after ousting it while it covered the 3 July 2018 Fifth (Budget) Committee then chaired by Cameroon, and asked about this situation and other under-performance by the UN. Inner City Press' most recent application for re-accreditation to enter and cover the UNSC stakeout, submitted on 15 April 2019, was denied without explanation on April 17. ("Greetings Matthew LEE from ICP     INNER CITY PRESS,  Your media accreditation request, with reference no: M66561081, has been declined.") What has your Mission does, or what will it do, about this?" Five full days later, including after a UN noon briefing in which the first questioner ask about the UK royal baby, no answer at all.

 So Inner City Press has filed this FOI request: "FCO FOI Team:  This is request under the UK Freedom of Information act for the following records as that term is defined in FOI, including but not limited to all electronic records, emails, text/SMS message and communications in any form, involving the UK Mission to the UN in New York since July 3, 2018 regarding Cameroon or Yemen (on which the UK holds the pen in the UN Security Council), and regarding any UK national UN Under Secretaries General including but not limited to Alison Smale and any opportunity given by the UN Secretariat to the UK to replace her or gain a different USG position as she leaves at the end of this summer.  This request specifically includes all records related to briefings given by the UK Mission to the UN to members of the major international media (and any mentions of that term), as that information cannot legitimately by made public to some but not to the public. Given the situations in Yemen and Cameroon, I and Inner City Press asked for expedited processes of this request: faster than the 20 working days provided for. I specifically note the unacceptable delay, and improper withholding, that was found on Inner City Press' appeal to the ICO. I trust such an appeal will not be necessary this time.    

This FOI request is triggered by inter alia the UK Mission to the UN's refusal to respond to or even acknowledge receipt of a written request on May 6, reproduced below for the record, regarding a May 13 UNSC Arria formula meeting which the UK Mission is purportedly co-sponsoring. Such unresponsively is unacceptable and necessitates FOI request(s)."

  And we now report this: on May 13 the UN Security Council will hold on Cameroon the lowest of all forms of sessions on Cameroon, a so called Arria formula meeting of the type it held in 2009 on Sri Lanka after and before the killing of thousands, accomplishing nothing. Unlike even an Any Other Business consultation in the Security Council, all members do not even have to attend. A participant will be Guterres' UK humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who has refused to make even the most basic UN public financial disclosure. Note that Lowcock as a UK USG is covered by the above FOI request. We'll have more on this.

  More here.


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