Inner City Press

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

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

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


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

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

UN's Critique of the Press Dissected, Sri Lanka-Style Crackdown in the Bud?

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Media Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 2 -- In an extraordinary four minute harangue from the bully pulpit of the UN's media briefing room, the spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Michele Montas bemoaned that the independent Press does not obey her and adopt a "different approach, that the UN is not able to impose its genteel definition of journalism and ethics on those who report on its operations, and that anyone dare ask for an accounting of her and other senior UN official's views on and meetings related to crackdown on the Press. Video here, from Minute 14:33 to Minute 18:41.

   As Ms. Montas, apparently with the approval of the three of Mr. Ban's Under Secretaries General to whom Inner City Press e-mailed questions about their May 8 meeting which recommended legal action against three media organizations but who did not respond, chose to make her critique in public, on the UN's own in-house television channel on which she would brook no interruption, what follows is a transcript annotated with the underlying context. It began, as Inner City Press has been asking at every day's noon briefing since January of this year, with a question about Sri Lanka and the UN (click here for NY Times debate)

Inner City Press: Michele, two questions. One is that the Government of Sri Lanka has expelled the head of the Norway-based NGO, Forut, from the country. Does the UN have any response to that as it did in say, Darfur?

Spokesperson Montas: No, not at this point. Not at this point, at all.

Inner City Press: Okay. The other question is, one, I e-mailed you, but I’m compelled to ask it. Whether you participated in an 8 May meeting with Ms. Angela Kane and certain others about how the UN would have a legal strategy on the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and Inner City Press, including seeking to de-list it from Google News?

Spokesperson Montas: Okay, Matthew, I just want to point out that I don’t have to account to you about the meetings I participate in. I participate in about seven meetings a day, okay. I don’t have any accounts to give you about what was discussed in a specific meeting that was held here at UN Headquarters!

Inner City Press: I have seen the minutes, but I guess my question to you is simply, before writing the article, how was the content of that meeting consistent with Article 19 and the First Amendment and what Mr. Ban said on 7 May about freedom of the press and of online media?

Ms. Montas and UN"s Ban- does he know? - please, no questions

Spokesperson: Those were discussions based on people who actually complained about things that you wrote about. I am talking about what you wrote concerning particularly the Medical Service where you really touched upon people’s reputations without any proof!

Annotation: The UN Medical Service story to which Ms. Montas referred in fact contained ample proof, including a photograph of the log book in which employees at the Medical Service signed out narcotics to themselves. Three weeks after Inner City Press ran the story, the UN's first request was that the photograph be taken off line. Inner City Press immediately granted this request to remove the evidence, or "proof," from the public domain, at the UN's request. Now Ms. Montas claims there is no proof.

Later on June 2, Inner City Press and two other media organization spoke in the hall -- see below -- with USG Angela Kane of the Department of Management, which oversees the Medical Service. In a discussion that all three reporters agreed was not off the record, as Ms. Kane never made any such request, Ms. Kane said that a total of two staff members had complained, about the photograph, which Ms. Kane stated she had not seen.

One reporter, incredulous, asked her to justify her statement in a May 21 press conference that the Office of Internal Oversight Services had clearer the Medical Service. She acknowledged that OIOS had, as was stated in the written response that Inner City Press received and put online, been blocked by lack of access to putatively confidential information.

  She claimed that after Inner City Press published the OIOS statement, less than two weeks ago and after her statement that the Service had been clearer, OIOS was granted access to previously confidential information. Then, she said, the Medical Service was clearer. But why did she announce the results before the investigation had been done?

Spokesperson Montas: And I want to underline the fact that whenever we have sent to you or other media, some other media -– very few of them, we have sent rectification saying this is untrue; this is what the truth is. You don’t bother to print that.

Annotation: This is patently untrue. In the case of the Medical Service story, the UN provided no response until after Ms. Kane's press conference, and when it did, Inner City Press immediately published the UN's statement. Even Ms. Kane acknowledged that Inner City Press took down the photograph of the log book -- the proof -- as soon as the UN requested in, on a Saturday morning.

  Ms. Montas' public criticism cannot be substantiated. In fact, it is her office which, as Inner City Press specifies in week in review articles, refuses to answer question even when they are posed publicly in the UN's noon briefing. See e.g., May 10 2009, May 2, 2009, earlier 2009.

Inner City Press: OIOS sent me something from Ms. Ahlenius that said that they couldn’t verify the claims against the Medical Service because of confidentiality. But Ms. Kane, here in this room, said that the Medical Service was cleared, which isn’t even what Ms. Ahlenius said. So, I did run it, I am always happy to run it, but I guess, I don’t want to dominate this…

Spokesperson: That has nothing to do with this. The fact that we get together, any staff member, any senior adviser here, get together in a meeting and discuss some specific claim, some specific allegation in some press report, in some media, about people whose lives are affected by media, and where issues of libel are discussed, I think it’s something that is [inaudible].

Annotation: It is interesting that Ms. Montas refers to the possibility of a libel suit by the UN, which itself claims that it cannot be sued. As exclusively reported by Inner City Press, earlier this year a UN staff member had a fatal stroke in the basement of Headquarters and waited an hour for an ambulance due to the failure of the UN's systems for alerting NYC emergency services.

While his survivors expressed a desire to sue, it is the UN's position that it is immune. Now the UN speaks of libel. As an aside, Inner City Press was informed later on June 2 by staff in the unit where the man died that since Inner City Press' coverage, and because of it, they are now allowed to call 911 and not only the UN where there is an emergency.

Inner City Press: [Since the minutes indicate] that the UN is seeking to complain to Google News and to have Inner City Press removed, does that confirm that previously when Inner City Press was removed that the UN was behind it?

Spokesperson: The UN had nothing to do with it.

Annotation: Even if that were true, at the time when Inner City Press was, based on anonymous complaint, removed from Google News for one week, Inner City Press was told that the UN would never make such a complaint, to stop implying that publicly, it could never come from the UN. Now three UN Under Secretaries General discuss precisely this, without objection. Did they do it in the past, or has the UN gotten even more opposed to press freedom in the past year?

Inner City Press: But this time the goal is to complain --

Spokesperson: Nothing was decided. Absolutely nothing. Things were discussed because of the fact that a number of allegations that you have printed are erroneous, do not respect the facts, and…

Annotation: the only example given by Ms. Montas was the Medical Service story, which Inner City Press stands behind. For the UN to use the bully pulpit of its media briefing room to harangue a reporter for unspecified errors is itself abusive. Ms. Montas has done it before, when questioned about the Ban administration's stealth hiring practices.

 Several close observers have concluded that the vehemence of the June 2 denunciation or attempt to intimidate, including as planned on May 8 and subsequently leaked, is related to Inner City Press' critical coverage of the UN's non-action against civilian death and internment in Sri Lanka, including the UN's withholding of casualty figures and satellite photographs.

Question: [inaudible] confirmed this.

Spokesperson: …and it’s…

Question: Fox News ran the same story [inaudible].

Spokesperson: May I finish, please?

Correspondent: I’m sorry, please.

Spokesperson: Not only you do not respect the facts, and I think some of your colleagues agree with me on this… not only you do not respect the facts, you do not respect when we actually call you, call upon you and we send a rectification. The third aspect of it all is that, whenever I speak to you or anybody else speaks to you, what we have is not a different approach, no! It is “I met so and so in the hallway”, and that’s what appears in your blog, “and he told me so and so”. I think this is, there are some definite ethics issues involved here.

Annotation: Inner City Press' rule is that if a UN official says off the record, it is respected -- often, Inner City Press choses not to continue to listen to off the record presentations. At one stage Ms. Montas sought to convene Inner City Press into her office for a discipline session. Inner City Press reported the "invitation," which was not off the record. The session was then canceled by Ms. Montas.

An entirely acceptable journalistic approach is, if you can't say it on the record, don't say it. Journalistic errors such as Judith Miller's of the New York Times' in the run up to the Iraq war were caused by allow people with power to put out information off the record.

Ms. Montas: We have a press corps here, and unfortunately we don’t have an ethics code the way a number of organizations, news organizations, have. And the ethics code should also apply; a basic ethics code should basically be applied.

Annotation: Is the UN in any position to define what is acceptable journalism? The UN allows a Special Representative of the Secretary General in Somalia who has called for a "moratorium" on reporting of the killing of civilians, and who most recently accused the Press of being complicit in genocide for asking him to response to Oxfam's testimony that the UN and UNDP support and pay police who commit human rights violations. After his outburst, he was congratulated by other UN media "professionals."

  In the few days since, Inner City Press is informed by its sources in Somalia that journalists seeking to investigate reports of rape by police at the "Mothers' Home" -- the former women's organisation headquarters in Mogadishu -- were threatened with AK47s by the police, the very police the UN envoy said should still be worked with. We'll have more on this.

Inner City Press: [inaudible]

Spokesperson: Since you actually talked to me about this and you mentioned in your e-mail my own background as a journalist, I would say that what I have read in your blog goes against many of the ethical values of journalism.

Annotation: It was unclear that the UN's noon briefing was a venue for Ms. Montas' personal views of acceptable journalism. Inner City Press asked by her views by e-mail on June 1 precisely so that time wouldn't be wasted in the UN's noon briefing. But Ms. Montas clearly preferred to vent in public.

Inner City Press: [inaudible] talking about Sri Lanka [inaudible]

Spokesperson: I am not talking about Sri Lanka. I am talking in general.

Correspondent: Okay. Just a coincidence.

    In the same way that Ms. Montas said that unnamed "colleagues" in the UN agree with her, let it be known that many people disbelieve that there is no connection between the May 8 -- and June 2 -- crackdown on the Press and coverage of the UN's problematic role in civilian casualties and interment in Sri Lanka. That is a country where those in power pontificate from their podiums on what is and is not acceptable journalism, and then uncooperative journalists are punished. But at the UN? Watch this site.

UN Targets WSJ, Fox and Inner City Press, According to Minutes, Google De-Listing Mulled

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 2 -- The day after after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave a speech about freedom of the press, minutes show that his Spokesperson and three of his Under Secretaries General met about "reporting by the press, particularly Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and Inner City Press," at which it was proposed to write "cease and desist" and "letters before action" and, "with regard to Inner City Press... complaining to Google News."

   At the UN noon briefing on June 2, UN Spokesperson Michele Montas confirmed her participation, while arguing that she doesn't have to account for her participating in such meetings. Video here, from Minute 14:49 to 18:41.

   The minutes, prepared by Under Secretary General Angela Kane’s Department of Management, recite that Ms. Kane met on May 8 with "Mr. Akasaka, Ms. Montas, Ms. O’Brien [the UN’s top lawyer and] Mr. Meyers" [sic, chief speechwriter and Director of Communications Michael Meyer] to devise a strategy to counter negative coverage of the UN by the three above-named media outlets.

  "We propose writing to professional journalistic bodies which regulate the journalists concerned as well as letters to the editors with copies to their companies' legal counsel," the minutes state.

  "With regard to Inner City Press, we should also consider complaining to Google News (they host Inner City Press)," the minutes continue.

  While extraordinary, this would not be without precedent. In February 2008, after a similar complaint, Inner City Press was temporarily removed from Google News.

  The delisting, and the UN, were criticized by the Government Accountability Project, a Washington-DC whistleblower protection organization, and were covered by Fox News.

   Since January 2009, Inner City Press has not only covered whistleblower issues within the UN Medical Service and but has persistently questioned the UN’s and Ban Ki-moon’s inaction as thousands of civilians were killed in Sri Lanka, including the UN’s double standards and withholding of satellite photos and its estimates of civilian casualties.

   This is precisely the watchdog role that Ban Ki-moon’s May 7 press freedom speech praised the press and specifically bloggers for. Ban noted that "some 45 percent of all media workers who have been jailed worldwide are bloggers....I urge all governments to respect the rights of these citizen journalists."

   But the next day, his highest officials met in secret to devise a strategy to deliver legal threats to three media organizations, and to constructively censor one of them, by seeking to delist (or "de-host") Inner City Press from Google News.

UN's Ban and Montas: one praises bloggers, the other... not so much

   The section of the minutes on these senior UN officials' anti-Press meeting of May 8 is preceded by a discussion of the suspension of the UN's National Competitive Exam (click here for Inner City Press' May 1 article), and is followed by a section on "business continuity training" in light of the swine flu / H1N1. Click here for Inner City Press' May 5 article on Angela Kane's space grab in the Capital Master Plan, here for Inner City Press article on "the wrath of Kane" on May 7, the day before she convened the anti-Press meeting.

   Ironically, in light of Kane's purported basis for attacking the Press, that it does not quickly enough publish her response, she has stated in writing to Inner City Press that she has no time to answer questions, and to ask them all at the UN's noon briefing. There, more often than not, questions are left unanswered, or not allowed at all, ostensibly due to time constraints.

   Now, as Inner City Press exclusively reported on May 30, Kane's department is seeking to charge the Press $23,000 to maintain office space in the UN which has previously been given without charge, to facilitate coverage.

    Inner City Press requested comment on theafternoon of June 1 from Ms. Kane, Ms. Montas, Ms. O’Brien and Mr. Akasaka, the head of the UN Department of Public Information.

   This was the e-mail to Ms. Montas to which she did not reply for 20 hours, but rather prepared her statement for the June 2 noon briefing. Similar requests for comment were sent to other listed participants in the May 8 meeting, including USG of DPI Kiyotaka Akasaka, USG for Management Angela Kane (with additional questions), and USG for Legal Affairs Patricia O'Brien, none of whom responded at least for the following 24 hours.

Subj: Hi, request on deadline for comment on May 8 meeting and Press issues, thanks
To: Michele Montas [at], Kiyo Akasaka [at]
From: Inner City Press
Sent: 6/1/2009 4 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

Mr. Akasaka and Ms. Montas --

Hi. I am writing a story about a May 8 meeting in which documents indicate you both were involved, regarding “reporting by the press, particularly Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and Inner City Press,” at which it was proposed to write “cease and desist” and “letters before action” and, “with regard to Inner City Press… complaining to Google News.”

On deadline -- am resending this to ensure receipt and response -- could you please either deny despite the documents your participation in such a meeting, or to explain how the above is consistent with press freedom, Article 19 and, here, the First Amendment -- and also, for you [Ms. Montas], your previous career as a journalist.

I'd also like a comment, in light of the above, on the UN’s previous denials of involvement in a complaining to Google News and getting Inner City Press temporarily delisted. See,,2933,331106,00.html


  I appreciated and learned from the S-G's recent trip to Sri Lanka, but was troubled to be urgently informed of the above upon return. Also, the proposed $23,000 charge for media wanting / needing similar office space in the Capital Master Plan, if you have any comment on or insight into that.

Thank you in advance, on deadline,

Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press

   For 20 hours after these requests for comment or denial were submitted, no responses were received. Given the UN's stated concern of Inner City Press not waiting to include UN responses (which often come late if at all), Inner City Press held off running this story until receiving confirmation.

  The following day, June 2, Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas at the noon briefing, and she responded with what appeared to be a prepared statement. Why she did not email this response, to avoid taking up time in the noon briefing, is not clear. Other reporters opined that Ms. Montas wanted to give a "public tongue lashing." Whether that is an appropriate use by the UN of its noon briefing is also not clear. 

  Ms. Montas began by saying, "I don't have to account to you for meetings I participate in," adding that "senior advisors" to Ban Ki-moon can and apparently do have such meetings all the time. We will pursue this. Video here, from Minute 14:49. Inner City Press asked if her, Ms. Kane's and apparently the UN's complaints have to do with Inner City Press' coverage of the UN's role in the carnage in Sri Lanka. We will continue on this. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Tells Press to Pay $23,000 For Space to Cover It, Sources Say, Scant UN Media Coverage to Further Decrease?

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 29, updated June 1 -- The press would for the first time in UN history be charged for space in UN headquarters under a plan announced in a closed door meeting on May 28 by officials of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Since Mr. Ban assumed the position 29 months ago, CNN has stopped covering the UN on a daily basis, and the Washington Post is mulling closing its UN bureau.

    Nevertheless the chief of the UN's Capital Master Plan renovation Michael Adlerstein told press corps members that in the "swing space" for media for the next three to four years, work spaces like the ones they have now for free will require them to pay $23,000, or even $70,000 in the case of broadcast media.

    The same amounts or more will be charged again once the UN Headquarters building is renovated, sources in the meeting told Inner City Press. Despite multiple requests by Inner City Press, neither Adlerstein or his spokesman have commented for this story.

    Already, Mr. Ban's administration receives less press coverage than his predecessor Kofi Annan, who never charged the media. What is not known is if the move to charge the media tens of thousands of dollars comes from and is approved by Mr. Ban, or is a unilateral project of Adlerstein and his boss, Under Secretary for Management Angela Kane.

    Last summer, Inner City Press was provided by a whistleblower with a copy of a Department of Management internal memo reflected that Ms. Kane wanted a review of public institutions similar to the UN to see if they charge the media for space.

  As Inner City Press reported on July 17, 2008 , in a July 15 memo, Principal Officer Lena Dissin said that Angela Kane, the then-new Under Secretary General for Management, "has asked us to quickly get some benchmarks from other organizations to see what facilities if any they may make available to the press," and on what basis.

   But neither the U.S. State Department nor City Hall in New York charge money. While Kane has refused to answer emailed questions, Adlerstein in the hallway of the UN months ago told Inner City Press that the rationale for trying to charge, if they did, would be that for the first time the UN is having to rent a lot of outside space, and so is looking at costs more closely.

  Apparently, though, the UN is not looking at precedents, neither of the fact that no previous UN Secretary General charged money to the press, nor that the State Department, White House and City Hall do not. In fact, the UN is directed by General Assembly resolutions that are now sure to be cited to make it easier, and not harder, for the press to cover it.

UN's Ban and Adlerstein view [Press free?] Capital Master Plan, UN Sept. 12, 2008

On May 29, Inner City Press telephoned Adlerstein's spokesman Werner Schmidt, whose voice mail message said his line was busy. Inner City Press left a detailed message about the media charges and asked for confirmation or denial and comment, on deadline, before noon.

  No response was received then or even by 3 p.m., so Inner City Press telephoned Adlerstein's line. His secretary said he was in a meeting for the next hour. Inner City Press again explained the question, and that a response was requested. He will call you back in an hour, Adlerstein's receptionist said. Twenty four hours later there has been no response.

  Ms. Kane has previously told Inner City Press, in writing, that she had no time to answer such questions, and to ask everything at the UN's noon briefing. But on May 29, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe said from the outset that she would take only two questions from the entire press corp, including on charges that the UN covered up 20,000 civilian deaths in Sri Lanka. According, we publish this story now.

    The explanation above is apparently necessary, because within the embattled Department of Management Inner City Press is informed of a strategy to lash out at the Press for not obtaining comments in advance. But when high officials say they have no time to answer questions and to ask at the noon briefing, at which it is said that only two questions will be taken, it is not the Press' fault.

   In fact, related to the anti-press strategy reported on above, simply in the past four day week, the UN has neglected to provide follow-up answers promised on at least two (mis) management issues.

On May 26, fresh back from traveling with and covering Mr. Ban's trip to Sri Lanka and Copenhagen, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: the Secretary-General went to UNOPS in Copenhagen. There, not long ago, there was a story in I guess, the Washington Post, talking about this UNOPS Director problem in Afghanistan and missing funds and the dispute between USAID and the UN about the return of funds that were improperly diverted to other uses. Is this something that either he raised in his speech at UNOPS or in speaking with Mr. Jan Mattsson? What’s the UN system done since that report came out about missing money?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: We’ll check with UNOPS

   But four days later, no answer has been provide, not even a cursory read-out of Mr. Ban's meeting with UNOPS director Mattsson. On May 27, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: Marie, I want to ask a question about a contract that the UN is entering into for outside legal counsel to defend a claim by PCP International. They’re paying an outside legal firm, it appears, $500,000, and then Headquarters’ committee on contracts now shows there are significant irregularities in it. Can you explain on what basis? Doesn’t the UN have its own legal department? When does it hire outside firms and, in this case, if you can look into it, why were the safeguards of procurement overridden?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: This is the first I hear of this, so we’ll have to look into it for you.

    But three days later, no answer has been received to this detailed question that is, like the attempt to charge the press money, in the purview of the Department of Management. The question is based on internal UN documents provided to Inner City Press by a whistleblower. [On June 1, five days after the question, the UN provided a response, which is published below.]

   Currently, such documents whether about the UN's $250 million no-bid contract with Lockheed Martin or irregularities in the UN Medical Service, or even Inner City Press' acknowledged exclusive this week of a leaked copy of the draft Security Council resolution on North Korea can be given to the Press in a closed-door office without monitoring by the UN. Under the new plan of Adlerstein and Kane, absent $23,000, this would not be possible.

   Even now, a person the UN has suspected of being the Medical Services whistleblower has had her e-mail "broken into" by the UN and checked, including to read any communications with the Press. Inner City Press asked at the noon briefing for the UN's comment on the legality of its treatment of the person, but no answer has been given. Welcome to the UN. We will report on any UN responses belatedly received.

Update of June 1 -- five days after the PCP International question above, the UN provided this response:

Subject: response to your question of 27 May
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
To: Inner City Press
Sent: Mon, 1 Jun 2009 6:27 pm

Question : Marie, I want to ask a question about a contract that the UN is entering into for outside legal counsel to defend a claim by PCP International, they’re paying an outside legal firm, and it appears, $500,000, and then Headquarters’ committee on contracts now it shows there are significant irregularities in it. Can you explain on what basis? Doesn’t the UN have its own Legal Department? When does it hire outside firms and in this case, if you can look into it, why were the safeguards of procurement overridden?

[Answer] The legal contract referred to in the question was bid out on a competitive basis after appropriate due diligence. The contract was recently signed. The acquisition process was reviewed by the Headquarters Committee on Contracts (HCC) and as such the appropriate safeguards and internal control measures, as per the Procurement Manual, were undertaken to ensure that the procurement case is compliant with the established rules and regulations and a best value for money outcome was achieved in the interest of the Organization. As the release of commercial contractual information is a potential for litigation, it is inappropriate for the UN to add any further comment.

  The question was based on internal UN documents being provided to Inner City Press by a whistleblower. Watch this site.

At UN, Sri Lanka Sinks Lower than the Basement, Ban Criticized on Human Rights

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 28 -- The status of interred civilians in Sri Lanka has sunk so low at the UN that even for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to be invited to brief the Security Council on his recent fly-over the conflict zone has resulted in opposition from China, Russia, Viet Nam and others.

  In a closed door Security Council meeting Thursday, these countries and others suggested that since there is no more conflict, Ban should not brief the Council but rather the General Assembly. It was arranged that Ban will meet private with Russia and Turkey, the Council presidents for May and June. At most, Ban will brief the Council in the UN's basement, put on par with Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN.

   Meanwhile Ban was lambasted by Human Rights Watch for having offered praise to Sri Lanka's interment camps, in a way that contributed to the vote-down of a call for a international investigation yesterday in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Inner City Press on Thursday asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe to respond to the Wednesday press release of Human Rights Watch, which

said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had regrettably undercut efforts to produce a strong resolution with his recent comments in Sri Lanka. Ban publicly praised the government for "doing its utmost" and for its "tremendous efforts," while accepting government assurances, repeatedly broken in the past, that it would ensure humanitarian access to civilians in need.

Ban also distanced himself from strong language used in April by the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, John Holmes, who warned that the fighting in Sri Lanka could result in a "bloodbath." Unlike Pillay, Ban also failed to press for an international inquiry.

"Secretary-General Ban shares the blame for the Human Rights Council's poor showing on Sri Lanka."

   Nearly 24 hours after this press release went online, Ms. Obake said that the UN hadn't seen it. Video here, from Minute 11:50. She said however that on these issues "the Secretary General has been very clear in public, perhaps more clear in private." Perhaps.

UN's Ban looking up - toward a Security Council or GA "informal dialogue"?

  After the noon briefing, the following arrived:

Subj: Your questions on Sri Lanka
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 5/28/2009 2:17:18 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

Just to add to what we already said at the noon briefing:

The Secretary-General has repeatedly said wherever serious and credible allegations are made of grave and persistent violations of international humanitarian laws, these should be properly investigated.

In addition, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, while noting that the Human Rights Council will not agree to set up such an inquiry at this point, says that more information will come out, more evidence will emerge about what did and did not happen. So an international inquiry could still happen further down the line. The Office also said that international human rights law is quite robust -- there are different ways and means to get to the truth and provide some measure of accountabilty. Sometimes it takes years, but this Session and this resolution do not close any avenues.

   But Ban's speech upon arrival in Sri Lanka on May 22, and his Joint Statement with the government exiting the country the next day, speak for themselves.

   In a briefing primarily about Pakistan, Inner City Press asked the UN's top humanitarian John Holmes if the doctors who remained in the conflict zone to offer treatment and casualty figures are still being detained and interrogated by the government of Sri Lanka. They are, almost Holmes said they have received ICRC visits. Yesterday the head of the ICRC said that his Red Cross has no access to some Sri Lankan "interment" camps. Holmes said that he disagrees. Who is one to believe? Watch this site.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

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

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -