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AFP & Reuters File Complaint Against ICP's Free Speech, UN Has No Rules

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- The UN's ongoing lack of basic due process rules for journalists, and the pretextual attempts by big media like Reuters and Agence France Presse to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, came to the fore on Monday afternoon.

   A UN Security officer approached Inner City Press to say that AFP's Tim Witcher and Reuters had “filed a complaint,” and that Inner City Press should respond in writing.

   Inner City Press asked to see a copy of, or at least get a summary, of the two wire services' complaint. It seemed amazing that a verbal disagreement on Friday, not begun by Inner City Press, could be the basis of a complaint that the UN would accept.

   Inner City Press asked, again, what are the rules?

  None of these questions were answered. We will await a copy of summary of the complaint. For now, here is the context, which UN Security should have checked, or still should check, before processing a frivolous and pretextual complaint from Tim Witcher or AFP.

  Back in September 2011, Witcher made a baseless complaint within the UN Correspondents Association Executive Committee that AFP was the source of a portion of Inner City Press' exclusive report on how France dumped Ladsous on the UN as a last minute replacement for Jerome Bonnafont.

  Witcher was angry that Inner City Press reported, correctly, that even the morning of the announcement the French Mission was unaware of the switch that had been made in Paris, from Bonnafont to Ladsous - who, notably, had been rejected for the same job by former Secretary General Kofi Annan.

  Witcher wrote to another UNCA “leader,” Reuters' Louis Charbonneau of Reuters as well as the now gone UNCA president to request some kind of action by UNCA over a story published by Inner City Press about the new head of UN peacekeeping in which the correspondent seems to have relied on information overheard in a canteen conversation. The only French media that the spokesman had communicated with that morning was the AFP correspondent.

  It was not possible, even arrogant, for Witcher to claim to know for a certainty which French media the then French Mission spokesman Stephane Crauzat had spoken with that morning.

  Worse was AFP's attempt to use UNCA, ostensibly a organization to defend and expand the rights of journalists to get information at the UN, to censor an entirely accurate story about an incompetent French official being dumped into a high UN position.

  Here now is some audio - as context.

  Witcher pursued his, Ladsous' or the French Mission's complaint for weeks in UNCA, using useless and scatological judgment on Inner City Press' accurate and exclusive story and asking UNCA to reprimand Inner City Press.

Witcher of AFP, March 8, 2013, Ladsous not shown, thanks UN Multimedia

  Inner City Press asked to attach a dissent to the UNCA executive committee's resulting statement about not using conversations with journalists as source material -- absurd, really -- but was told no, that the UNCA Executive Committee or some members owned the group's e-mail list serv.

  By June 2012, according to documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Law, Witcher's AFP expressed support for a bid by Voice of America to get the UN to “review” the accreditation of Inner City Press -- entirely based on things written and said, freedom of speech and of the press be damned.

  At that time Inner City Press was an elected member of the Executive Committee, but due to the group's dissent into censorship it quit and on December 7, 2012 co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  In 2013, UNCA now increasingly known as the UN's Censorship Alliance under “new” president Pamela Falk of CBS has tried to use the UN Department of Public Information to order Inner City Press to stop accurate reporting of on the record meetings.

  The official pursuing that issue, Stephane Dujarric, is the same one who refused to state the UN's rules of due process, if any -- even to the New York Civil Liberties Union -- or to say when the Voice of America complaint, for which he thanked VOA, would have been shown to Inner City Press, if not published and exposed.

  Ironically, at the on the record meeting Dujarric complained of, Falk spoke to Inner City Press both more insultingly and louder than anything Inner City Press said to AFP's Witcher or the Reuters correspondent. DPI witnessed that, but did nothing. So what are the rules?

  Meanwhile UNCA “leaders” have used anonymous social media accounts to try to undermine the new Free UN Coalition for Access, have torn down -- again Witcher -- and scrawled insults on FUNCA flyers and most recently chirped about lies and distortion.

  Significantly, the "lies and distortion" that Witcher hissed about revolve again around Ladsous.

In this context, to convert a one word assessment -- “lapdog” -- into a complaint to UN Security is beyond frivolous. Where is a copy of Witcher's complaint? What are the rules? Watch this site.

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