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Amid Media Strike in Mali, UN Vague on Detention for Reporting on Sanogo's Salary

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 12 -- What does it mean for the UN to focus on a country like Mali? Nor freedom of the press, it seems.

  Back at the March 7 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's chief spokesperson Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: In Mali, a journalist has been detained by the security agents, his name is Boukary Daou, and his paper published an open letter about the financial package given to Captain Sanogo, the coup leader. Now he has been essentially arrested and taken in for questioning. So I am wondering, particularly given the UN… I am not sure of the status of the UN presence, I know that they are there. Are they aware of this arrest of a journalist for what seems to be a pretty much free-speech activity and do they have any comment on it? Have they spoken to the Government about it? What do they think of it?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, I think you are aware that we do have a UN office in Mali. It is a multidisciplinary team that also includes a human rights component. So I will check to see what they have to say about that, okay? It is obvious that journalists should be allowed to carry out their work, and particularly of an investigative nature. They should be allowed to carry out that work. Let me see what the mission has to say on that.

   But even five days later, the UN in Mali has had nothing to say, even as a media strike has been launched. On the morning of March 12 Inner City Press e-mailed Ban Ki-moon's three top spokespeople "to check in on this one: my question last week about the editor in Mali. Now that the issue has led to a media strike in the country, with its emerging UN presence, I want to ask again if there is any UN statement / action on this: March 12, 2013, 'Mali Media Outlets Go Silent Over Editor's Arrest.'"

   To this written inquiry, there was no response. So Inner City Press ran to the March 12 noon briefing, between UN Security Council stakeouts by the US and Russia about Sudan.
  But even asking the question for the third time, the only answer was vague, about the right to report within the rules. Isn't the UN supposed to have more to say, and crucially more to do, to advance freedom of the press in one of the countries it says it is most concerned about? Watch this site.

Footnote: The UN's Mali juggernaut is set to be run by Mulet's boss Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping (Profile; Short Film #LADSOUS2013).

  Ladsous has refused to answer Inner City Press questions about 126 rapes in Minova by his partners in the Congolese Army. Finally on March 7 his DPKO spoonfed vague answers to friendly journalists.  The answers were incomplete, as it turns out.

  But when Inner City Press was asked about Ladsous' modus spinandi, AFP's Tim Witcher cut in to hiss about "lies and deception." Inner City Press replied, "lapdog."

  AFP's Witcher and a Reuters correspondent then filed a complaint, entirely about speech, with UN Security. Ban's Department of Pubilc Information has not provided any guidance, much less assurance, that the right to publish and speak exist in Ban's UN.

   This is how the media is dealt with in this UN: the "friendly" ones are used, servile on Serval;  those who report on corruption? See above, and see false complaints to Inner City Press by UN Media Accreditation boss Stephane Dujarric. Watch this site.

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