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After Month of UN Abuse and Ban Inner City Press' Demand to Guterres to Reinstate or Recuse Himself

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS GATE, August 6 -- More than a month after Inner City Press' reporter was roughed up by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Security officers as he covered the UN Budget Committee meeting on Guterres' $6.7 billion budget, a formal request for full reinstatement or recusal has been filed to Guterres, his also vacationing Chief of Staff and Deputy, see below. After Guterres' UN banned Inner City Press from entering the building while taking no action against the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) officers who engaged in brutality on July 3, then refused Inner City Press' July 20 question why and went on vacation location undisclosed now murkily extended into Japan, Inner City Press has filed this:  "Secretary General, I write to request that you immediately restore of all my rights as an accredited journalist at the UN, specifically that you reinstate me as a ‘resident’ UN journalist with full access rights to UN premises, consistent with the UN Media Guidelines, as well as the return of my office. Failing that, I request that you recuse yourself and your subordinates from taking any adverse decision against me because of your clear conflict of interest (and that of your subordinates) in my case, and that you refer the matter of my resident status and access rights to the President of the UN General Assembly.
I am a journalist who has been reporting on the UN and its specialized agencies since 2005. I was accredited by the UN in 2005 and was a resident correspondent from 2006 to 2016, when as I was reporting on the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case I was reduced to non-resident correspondent status. My articles, published at are widely read around the world and, as is relevant here, in UN Headquarters in New York and other UN duty stations, by Member States, UN staff and by those with an interest in the workings of the organization. My articles are frequently critical of the UN establishment and its senior officials. The fact that I bear witness to inconvenient truths, effectively as a whistleblower undertaking protected activity, is no justification for my illegal censure and ill-treatment.
The decisions taken by the Secretariat in 2016 to downgrade my status to non-resident journalist, and then in 2018 to withdraw my access rights and to forcibly eject me and ban me from the UN premises are fundamentally flawed, retaliatory, unethical, tainted by conflict of interest and  evidence of corruption.   My physical ejection was also criminal, and I have filed a criminal report with the New York City Police (reference #2018-017-2848_see attached) on 4_ July 2018, which report is still pending.
Your clear conflict of interest in my case stems from my reporting, on an ongoing basis, allegations of corruption, fraud, serious misconduct and unethical behaviour at the top echelons of the UN, as well as on the continuing retaliation against UN whistleblowers. I have broken the news on many stories at which sadly reflect negatively on the performance of senior UN officials, including your own as Secretary General.
Many of the allegations of misconduct I have reported publicly at have been substantiated through ‘duly authorised’ UN investigations, including the UN’s gross institutional failure in responding to the child sexual abuse and pedophilia by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the abuse of authority by senior UN officials against Anders Kompass (see CAR Review Panel Report A/71/99). The material I have published on has been used by UN investigators as evidence in their ‘duly authorised’ investigations. My articles continue to break the news on sexual abuse, perpetrated by UN peacekeepers and staff, against vulnerable people whom the UN is supposed to protect.
I drew the international community’s attention to the human rights violations in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon and your apparent silence in responding to these abuses, which was noted by many anglophone Cameroonians. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein belatedly issued a statement on 25 July 2018 condemning the abuses5.  I also reported your apparent failure to initiate an audit of the China Energy Fund Committee / Patrick Ho / Sam Kutesa UN bribery case, which has resulted in a US criminal prosecution for bribery and international money laundering.
For years I have reported publicly the UN’s failure to protect its whistleblowers, including high profile cases such as Anders Kompass, Caroline Hunt-Matthes, Miranda Brown and Emma Reilly.  My public reporting of these failures by the UN to protect its whistleblowers have now been substantiated by the UN Joint Inspection Unit, in their recent report and recognised by the UK Parliamentary Committee on International Development’s Inquiry into Sexual abuse and exploitation in the aid sector. I have also reported publicly that the ongoing retaliation against UN whistleblowers appears to violate the US law for the protection of UN whistleblowers (Section 7048 of the US Consolidated Appropriations Act), which stipulates that the State Department must withhold 15% of the US’ annual financial contributions to the UN unless the UN “implements” best practice for the protection of whistleblowers.
Given that I have publicly reported allegations of serious misconduct, wrongdoing and unethical conduct at the top of the UN and that these allegations clearly reflect negatively on your performance as Secretary General and that of your senior officials (your subordinates), neither you nor your senior officials can bring an impartial and objective view to my case.
The International Code of Conduct of Civil Servants, to which you are bound, states:
“Conflicts of interest may occur when an international civil servant’s personal interests interfere with the performance of his/her official duties or call into question the qualities of integrity, independence and impartiality required the status of an international civil servant.”
The failure to report and address a conflict of interest constitutes serious misconduct under the UN’s Staff Regulations and Rules. UN Staff Regulation 1.2 m states:
“A conflict of interest occurs when, by act or omission, a staff member’s personal interests interfere with the performance of his or her official duties and responsibilities or with the integrity, independence and impartiality required by the staff member’s status as an international civil servant. When an actual or possible conflict of interest does arise, the conflict shall be disclosed by staff members to their head of office, mitigated by the Organization and resolved in favour of the interests of the Organization.”
In the case of a conflict of interest by the Secretary General, the matter shall be referred to the President of the General Assembly. The UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services’ (OIOS) classifies ‘conflict of interest’ as ‘Category I’ ‘Serious’, the highest level of misconduct, “according to the relative seriousness of the contravention and risk to the Organization”.
Further, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
“Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination of his rights and obligations...”
I have not been provided with access to any such independent and impartial tribunal. Instead the Secretariat has wrongfully and unilaterally taken on the role of judge and executioner, with a clear lack of independence and impartiality. The Secretariat claimed in 2016 that it cancelled my ‘resident’ journalist status because of my allegedly not upholding the UN Media Guidelines; however, notwithstanding my categorial rejection of this claim, its decision is in any event tainted by conflict of interest and hence fundamentally flawed. While you were not in office as Secretary General at the time the Secretariat took its tainted and fundamentally flawed decision in 2016 to rescind my resident status, you have perpetuated the wrongful decision, injustice and violation of my human rights: this must now be urgently corrected.
As the Secretary General you have a responsibility to ensure that the Secretariat acts with integrity, independence and impartiality, and to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including on freedom of expression. You have a responsibility to act ethically and report and address any conflict of interest, such as the clear one in my case. You have a responsibility not to engage in corrupt decision-making processes, or to place your subordinates in positions of conflict of interest.
I therefore demand that you:
1) Immediately rescind the Secretariat’s fundamentally flawed, retaliatory, corrupt, unethical decisions to withdraw my status as a ‘resident’ UN journalist and ban from the UN premises – these unilateral decisions are tainted by clear conflict of interest;
2) Immediately reinstate me as a ‘resident’ UN accredited journalist and restore all of my access rights (consistent with the UN Media Guidelines), including to a suitable office in the UN premises, specifically S-303 from which I was improperly evicted and which has been largely unused, contrary to one of MALU’s few written rules, since;
3) Failing that I demand that you report your conflict of interest and that of your senior officials in my case to the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Miroslav Lajcák (Slovakia), and that you refer to him this request for my reinstatement as a ‘resident’ UN journalist and restoration of my access rights. The failure to report and address a conflict of interest constitutes serious misconduct under the UN’s Staff Regulations and Rules; and
4) In the event you fail or refuse to implement the foregoing demands, I request that you immediately lift the immunity of those responsible for my physical ejection from the UN premises on 4 July 2018, detailed in the attached complaint to the NYC police, so that the NYC police may investigate my complaint
Finally, I urge you to ensure that your senior officials, including at the Department of Safety and Security, Department of Public Information, and your Spokesperson and Deputy Spokesperson desist from taking any further retaliatory actions against me. 
For the record, I am alleging that your Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, angered by my 19 June 2018 critique on live-streamed Periscope video of his selective distribution of your comments, played a role in my improper ouster during a 22 June 2018 event including your speech about Mali by DSS Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins and four other DSS officers who refused to give their names. After you ignored my 25 June 2018 message requesting protection, I was more physically ousted by Dobbins and another unnamed on 3 July 2018 as I covered the Fifth Committee meeting on your peacekeeping budget and contested Global Service Delivery Mechanism move of jobs. The violence of the ouster(s) about which I am separately complaining to DSS is imputable to Dujarric, to USG Alison Smale and to you.
I believe that my reinstatement as a ‘resident’ journalist with full restoration of my access rights and office would be in the best interests of the organization and consistent with the wishes of Member States, many of whom continue to express strong concerns about my situation and more generally about the retaliation against journalists and whistleblowers. The credibility of the UN will be further eroded if it continues to retaliate against and crackdown on a journalist for exposing wrongdoing and unethical behavior. 
The foregoing is sent without prejudice and under reservation of all rights.

Matthew Russell Lee, 5 August 2018


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