Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On Displaced in Sri Lanka, Egeland Talks Advice, On S. Sudan, UN Says Stretched

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 17 -- When former UN official Jan Egeland and current UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson took questions about NRC's new report on displacement on September 17, Inner City Press asked about Sri Lanka and South Sudan.

   To Jan Egeland, Inner City Press asked about governments which refuse to re-settle people where they came from on an ethnic and political basis, as in Northern Sri Lanka. Egeland replied that NRC gives legal advice on housing, land and property. (NRC testified about IDPs in Sri Lanka earlier this year.) He also said, twice, that governments have to give those displaced a better option, if they are told they can't return.

  To Jan Eliasson, Inner City Press asked what the UN is doing in South Sudan to try to prevent or prepare for natural disasters. He replied that there are not enough resources; the UN's focus is on trying to prevent conflict. The report suggested not keeping development and aid separate. Does the UN?

  On Sri Lanka, where UN says it will be investigating war crimes, the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa has said it will no allow the investigators in. On August 27 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric what precedents or procedures the UN has for protecting witnesses, those giving information to this inquiry? Video here.

  Dujarric said he would look into precedents, and we'll look forward to that. But already, when Inner City Press and others raised concerns that the email submission procedures for the inquiry does not involve encryption, nothing has yet been done. It still should be.

  Given the UN's troubling silence in Sri Lanka amid mass killings in 2009, which has given rise to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's “Rights Up Front” initiative, perhaps DPI where applicable should speak up on such restrictions put on NGOs.

Background: After Sri Lanka's Minister of "Defense and Urban Development" issued an order banning all non-governmental organizations from press conferences, workshops, training for journalists, and dissemination of press releases which is beyond their mandate," and the UN declined comment or passed the buck, the US and now the human rights group FIDH have expressed concern.

  The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights said, "The Observatory is concerned by these attempts by the Sri Lankan Government to curtail the freedom of association, assembly, and expression of human rights defenders , which seem to be aimed at undermining the legitimacy of their peaceful activities. The Observatory calls upon the authorities of Sri Lanka to withdraw the above-mentioned notice immediately and to put an immediate end to the harassment against all human rights defenders."

   On July 7,  Inner City Press  asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about it. Video here, on Inner City Press' YouTube channel.

  Inner City Press asked, since UN envoy Oscar Fernandez Taranco was recently in Sri Lanka, had he spoken to the Rajapaksa government about this crack-down, or did he have any comment now?

  Haq replied, "We'll have to study what this particular injunction was... we'll have to evaluate that." 

  But 24 hours later on July 8, after lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric had already belatedly begun the day's noon briefing -- and after 5 pm in Geneva -- the Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press this:

Date: Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 12:18 PM
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Subject: Your question on Sri Lanka.
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding Sri Lanka, please kindly direct your question from yesterday's noon briefing to OHCHR.

   So this was the result of the UN Secretariat's "evaluation" -- to pass the buck to Navi Pillay's office?

  Meanwhile media in Sri Lanka had reported that Haq's office would be making a comment; a press freedom organization there consulted by the Free UN Coalition for Access complained the order would chill the freedom to report. What was the purpose of the UN's Oscar Fernandez Tarando's trip to Sri Lanka? What does Ban's "Rights Up Front" policy, announced after systemic failure in Sri Lanka, really mean?

After UN official Oscar Fernandez Taranco visited Sri Lanka but has refused to take Press questions upon his return to New York, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on June 25 about a protest, video here:

Inner City Press: There’s a protest scheduled for today at 1 p.m. on 47th Street of mostly people from Sri Lanka and elsewhere about the violence there. And they’ve said that they intend to hand a letter to the Secretariat, seeking action against the action there. I wanted to know: is this going to be possible? Is Mr. [Oscar Fernandez-] Taranco... it’s great that Mr. Šimonovic will brief on Burundi. It seems like it’s a kind of a similar situation. And is the UN aware of this? And what has been the reaction to the upswing in violence in Sri Lanka?

Spokesman Dujarric: I think we’ve spoken about this from this podium. We’ve condemned the violence that we’ve seen recently. And obviously, the Secretary-General fully backs the efforts of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. As for the demonstration, I was unaware of it. If I have any information, I will let you know.

Inner City Press: That panel is about war crimes at the end of the conflict on both sides, whereas this is something that’s actually taking place currently. That’s why I’m sort of asking, like, did Mr. Taranco deal with this issue while he was there?

Spokesman Dujarric: As I said, I shared with you what I had on Mr. Taranco’s visit.

   The protest took place: see Inner City Press tweeted photo here.

  In a previous protest by Sri Lankan Tamils, the UN sent a lower level functionary who told the protesters the letter would be rejected if they told the Press about it. Dujarric said he would check.

 The UN has essentially stonewalled Press questions about the new White Flag killings report and the light it sheds on current UN official Vijay Nambiar and former UN official, now Sri Lankan Ambassador Palitha Kohona.

  It was about a past financial relationship between Kohona and the president of the UN Correspondents Association, who then agreed to an UNCA screening of a Rajapaksa government movie denying war crimes that UNCA tried to censor.

When Inner City Press reported on the background to Kohona getting the Rajapaksa government's denial of war crimes, “Lies Agreed To,” screened in the Dag Hammarjkold Library auditorium, the reaction from the then-president and executive committee of the United Nations Correspondents Association are summarized here.

  Now the new Free UN Coalition for Access opposes all of this, and attacks on media work both inside the UN both further afield and as close at 47th Street, west of First Avenue. Watch this site.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2014 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]