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On DRC Journalist Jailed, UN Slowed by Anti-Press Reactions, Silent on Sri Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 16 – When the Congolese government, the UN's partner, locked up journalist Joachim Diana Gikupa, what did the UN say? Nothing.

   The UN is hamstrung not only by the degree to which it partners with the government of Joseph Kabila, to the point of now allowing at least a rape “grace period” for Kabila's FARDC soldiers who committed at least 126 rapes in Minova in November. (Click here for that story.)

  In the media sphere, the UN's MONUSCO mission on January 30 issued a press release denouncing the publication by Inner City Press of a leaked MONUSCO document reflecting knowledge of FARDC support for the FDLR militia.

MONUSCO, then as now, does not even have an e-mail address on its “Contact Us” page. At the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople to confirm or deny the authenticity of the MONUSCO leaks.

  But Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey said that the UN won't comment in any way on leaked documents.

It seems more than a little strange for the UN to refuse to provide any comment or guidance on detailed documents head “MONUSCO,” then to publicly denounce their publication. The goal seems to be to make publication of leaks impossible, or automatically condemnable.

And now, what position is MONUSCO in to meaningfully speak out about its Congolese government partner's arrest of a journalist for a story they didn't like? Birds of a feather.

Footnote: The Committee to Protect Journalists, to its credit, further amplified the protests of local DRC media and press freedom groups. But in a UN press conference last week, CPJ's Rob Mahoney declined to answer Inner City Press' question about the UN's accreditation rules barring journalists based on geography and “principles,” calling these “in house” matters.

  Asked about Sri Lanka, Mahoney answered about the disappeared cartoon Prageeth, but not on the more recently death threats Inner City Press asked about. He noted that CPJ's Asia expert Bob Dietz was sick and therefore not present at the UN.

  Now with Sunday Leader reporter Faraz Shauketaly shot in Colombo, the threats there are more serious. Will CPJ not only issue a statement but look beyond and into its corporate media partners and acknowledge that the UN's silence in Sri Lanka, back to 2009, and inside (“in house”) the UN in 2012, plays some role in and is related to this climate? Watch this site.

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