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UN's Dujarric Privately Got Internal UNCA Document from Reuters' Charbonneau

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- While the UN holds a good governance conference in Bahrain, which outlaws “unregistered organizations,” inside UN Headquarters the Department of Public Information on Monday threatened the suspension or withdrawal of press accreditation for displaying the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  FUNCA was formed in December 2012 as an alternative to the UN Correspondents Association, five of whose Executive Committee members earlier that year asked UN Department of Public Information official Stephane Dujarric to throw Inner City Press out of the UN. Today a new document goes online, here.

   That campaign stopped, or was suspended, after Inner City Press obtained copies of the requests from Voice of America under the US Freedom of Information Act and published some of them.

  But in mid-2013, DPI and UNCA together agreed on new Media Access Guidelines which they now say outlaw even a single sign of FUNCA on the door of Inner City Press' office. Like Bahrain, Ban Ki-moon's UN essentially outlaws or bans organizations that it does not like, or which dissent.

  Troublingly, among documents Inner City Press obtained are a number which UNCA Executive Committee members sent to Dujarric not through his official UN email account, but through a private account, steph [at]

  Dujarric replied to a number of these requests and encouraged more, saying for example “I will keep this email to myself.”

  As Inner City Press and FUNCA have now repeatedly raised to DPI chief Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, this is akin to the film “Bad Lieutenant,” or a situation in which a captain in a police precinct sets up his own chain of communications outside of the precinct and acts on it. The precinct commander has to do something, no? Or Internal Affairs (in this case, the Office of Internal Oversight Services) should get involved, no?

Here now today put online is just one of the documents, in which Reuters bureau chief Louis Charbonneau sent an UNCA Executive Committee letter which Inner City Press was repeatedly told would not be distributed to Dujarric at steph [at], with the notation “You didn't get this from me.”

  To explain the context of the document: Inner City Press published an article noting accurately that UNCA's then president had a past financial relationship with Palitha Kohona, who as Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN then got UNCA to screen a government film denying war crimes. UNCA tried to get Inner City Press to take the article down, then instituted and leaked a proceeding that led to Inner City Press receiving death threats.

 Inner City Press asked that it stop, then asked the prosecutors' bosses to make it stop. The internal letter resulted, and UNCA's -- and Reuters' -- Charbonneau immediately sent it to steph [at] saying “you didn't get this from me.” Document now online here.

  Now what? Citing the rules it agreed to with UNCA, DPI has today June 24 threatened to suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' accreditation -- for hanging a sign of a press freedom group it co-founded after seeing UNCA and DPI for what they are: the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  FUNCA has asked questions of DPI which have yet to be answered. Will they succeed? Watch this site.

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