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At UN, AFP Complaint Still Withheld, Scribe Demanded Apology for Reporting on Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 12 -- More than 24 hours after Inner City Press was informed by UN Security that a complaint about an entirely verbal disagreement had been filed by Agence France Presse's Tim Witcher and a Reuters correspondent, no copy of the presumptively frivolous complaint has been provided.

   (In the interim, Inner City Press for context is running another piece of audio, in which Witcher tried to connive or even extort an apology for Inner City Press' critique of his and AFP's closeness with the French Mission to the UN and Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping - click here for this audio.)

   Nor has a copy of the speech-based complaint been provided to the UN Department of Public Information, Inner City Press understands.

   The new Free UN Coalition for Access, following up on the New York Civil Liberties Union's July 5, 2012 still unfulfilled request to see the UN's due process rules, proposed to DPI on February 10 a series of 10 needed reforms, including due process rules for complaints such as this.

  Now, FUNCA has an additional proposal: when one media organization tries to file a complaint with UN Security against another competing media that is only about material that has been published or said, under free speech, UN Security should decline to process the complaint.

  There should be provisions for false or frivolous complaints filed in bad faith. DPI needs to set rules to protect freedom of the press and of speech, but has not.

  But the UN does appear to have a double standard. In an on the record meeting to which DPI invited Inner City Press and another FUNCA member on February 22, the president of the old UN Correspondents Association Pamela Falk of CBS screamed at Inner City Press “mugger” and “you call yourself a journalist!”

  This was more than anything Inner City Press said to Witcher or the Reuters correspondent. But DPI did not in anyway admonish Falk or UNCA. If DPI saw this behavior, which it witnessed, as OK then Inner City Press should have no problem. Or will it?

  After the meeting at which Falk screamed at Inner City Press, after being told “you are on the record” and replying, “He's going to write this up,” DPI's Stephane Dujarric admonished only Inner City Press, for reporting on it.

  Inner City Press immediately wrote to request clarification or retraction, but Dujarric has yet to respond with either.

  Ironically, at the February 22 meeting Dujarric said there is so much news to be reported at the UN, not only the Security Council but "how the deals are done."

    On March 12, while Inner City Press questioned the Ambassadors of the US, Sudan and Russia about Abyei and a failed UNSC press statement, this frivolous complaint hung in the air, with no responses from DPI.

     A Kafka-esque atmosphere has been created.

  As noted, while Inner City Press on March 8 did not even swear at Witcher, but only after he hissed “lies and distortion” called him a lapdog while remaining seated throughout, Witcher has in the past cursed at Inner City Press, saying “you just write any old bullsh*t” - click here for that audio.

  Beyond words, whether swear words or not, DPI was also informed that the spokesman for UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, also the cause and subject of the March 8 verbal disagreement with AFP and Reuters, on December 18 physically seized the UNTV microphone to try to prevent Inner City Press from asking a question. Video here.

  DPI's response to this filmed physical act which DPI has since called inappropriate was only to talk to Ladsous' spokesman, privately. So that's DPI's response to physical inappropriate acts. Can they do more on speech acts? Watch this site.

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