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UN Again Demands Press Response to Reuters & AFP Complaint It Will Not Disclose, No Rules

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 15 -- The UN's lack of rules, and of respect for free speech and freedom of the press are becoming ever more clear.

  From Monday to Friday, Inner City Press has awaited a copy of a complaint filed with UN Security by Agence France Presse's Tim Witcher and Reuters' Michelle Nichols about a verbal disagreement which they initiated.

  No copy of the complaint has been provided, despite a renewed and formal request at 9 am on March 15 to the head of the Department of Public Information, as well as the chief of its Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.

  Nevertheless at 4 pm on March 15 UN Security's Lenworth James sought out Inner City Press again, asking for a written response to a complaint he again refused to show to Inner City Press. We're not going to show it to you, he said. You will never get the complaint.

   How can this be? He added that Witcher's general claim is “harassment.” Since Inner City Press has not spoken to Witcher in months, unless a single reply “lapdog” could be considered harassment (it can't), then the reference is to articles Inner City Press has published.

  This lawlessness clearly can have, and appears intended to have, a chilling effect on reporting, on freedom of the press, with which DPI is supposed to be concerned (and not undermine.)

    That is why at 9 am on March 15, the request for a copy of the complaint, as well as for rules of due process and concerning false or pretextual complaints filed in bad faith, were formalized in a seven point letter sent to the head of DPI and the chief of its MALU. The other points, still unresponded to, will be the subject of forthcoming reporting.

  The letter also requests belated DPI response to Inner City Press' February 27 rebuttal of a defense of the UN Correspondents Association, a/k/a the UN's Censorship Alliance, by UN official Stephane Dujarric.

  Dujarric took issue with Inner City Press' reporting an on the record February 22 meeting, convened by DPI, with UNCA President Pamela Falk of CBS and Louis Charbonneau of Reuters.

  Inner City Press said, "you are on the record," and Falk said, "he's going to write this up." But Dujarric claims it shouldn't have been. Can you say, censorship? Or attempt to chill free speech?

  Since February 27, Dujarric has provided no explanation. This helps create the lawless, free press-chilling and Kafka-esque atmosphere in which Witcher of AFP, on UNCA's Executive Committee, saw no downside to filing a frivolous complaint based on an entirely verbal exchange which he began, saying “lies and distortions.” Inner City Press replied, Lapdog.

   But DPI, seven hours after FUNCA's letter request rapid response, did not reply in any way. The head of DPI was occupied at a flower ceremony sponsored by the Japanese mission, another FUNCA member observed.

   That was in the afternoon before UN Security's Lenworth James -- he has yet to provide even a business card to Inner City Press, much less a written summary of the complaint he has twice demanded a written response to.

   That UN Security would accept and process, and now twice demand a response from Inner City Press, to a supposed complaint that is entirely about freedom of the press and free speech is telling.

  The UN has no rule of law -- witness in the much bigger picture its terse dismissal of Haiti cholera claims -- and little respect for freedom of the press. “They don't even want to do their jobs,” another FUNCA member said. Watch this site.

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