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UN Denies ICP Request to End Press Restrictions, Rewards State Media Retweeting UN Officials' Selfies

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video here

UNITED NATIONS, May 21 – What is the UN's commitment to free press? Very little. While the UN World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva uses criminal defamation law against media which reported on its corruption, in New York the UN evicted and still restricts Inner City Press for covering UN and WIPO corruption. A week ago Inner City Press made a written request to, after 15 months of "punishment" for covering an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, be restored to the resident correspondent accreditation that was (physically) taken from it, without any hearing or appeal. Audio here. This was denied without explanation, while Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom, which rarely comes into the UN and never asks questions, occupies Inner City Press' long time workspace, a lone Egyptian flag on an otherwise empty desk. Next door the UN gives a two person office to a single Turkish state correspondent who online defends Erdogan's guards beating up protesters in DC, asking why there was police protection for them - while retweeting the long distance running selfies of the UN official who without no accountability or oversight turned down Inner City Press' similar April 1 request. At the UN if you support dictator, promote the personal projects of UN officials and don't look into UN corruption, you are reward with all access and a double-wide office. If you ask about WIPO's North Korea patents or UN Security covering up death threats, you are thrown in the street and confined to minders. The Free UN Coalition for Access says this disgusting regime must end, now. Watch this site. At the UN's World Press Freedom Day event on May 4, the hypocrisy of the UN was on display. After a UN panel gave speeches praising the UN's work, the floor was opened for questions. Inner City Press raised its hand throughout. First the Department of Public Information's Margaret Novicki called on a non governmental organization; then she switched to pre-selected questioners. A DPI staffer told Inner City Press Novicki erred in calling on the NGO, but to keep its hand raised. (Below we publish Novicki's social media directive to DPI's far flung army, how to present the UN as trustworthy with no mention of cholera in Haiti, sexual abuse by peacekeepers, no reforms.) Inner City Press waited and then asked about the UN's own commitment to press freedom, using as examples the World Intellectual Property Organization's use of criminal defamation laws against a Swiss radio station, FAO going after a website for reporting on corruption, and the UN's lack of due process protections for journalists. All Novicki said, to the three questions, was that "as you know," DPI is committed to freedom of the press. Video here.  This is false: on personal experience, DPI evicting Inner City Press without any hearing or appeal, confined it to minders, hinders its reporting. Here is Novicki's email to DPI staff:

Date: 01/05/2017
Subject: Message from Margaret Novicki:  Updated UN messaging materials  -  multilingual social media friendly and optimised digital products
Dear colleagues,
Over the past few months, several new multilingual social media friendly and optimised digital products have been unveiled. The products aim to show the value of the international cooperation, the trustworthiness and cost effectiveness of the UN as well as to boost general understanding of the impact and importance of the UN’s work around the world.
• Templates for general UN cards and quote cards in six languages: 
•               “Ways the UN helps” card: 
•               General UN facts here: 
•               UNFPA funding: 
•               Together campaign: 
•               "Fast Facts" page on 
•               Climate change cards: 
•               Sustainable Development Goals: 
•               SDGs and security: 
•               Better World Campaign:
In addition, general information about the UN, including video/photo suggestions and updates about the Secretary-General, is available here:
All of these Trello boards are updated frequently. All around the UN System are welcome to use these materials “as is” or to use the templates in line with your own communications strategies. A “one UN” approach is most appreciated in these challenging times for communicators.
Additional images, videos, web pages, etc., are expects in the coming weeks and months. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Margaret Novicki
Acting Director, Strategic Communications Division
United Nations Department of Public Information

 Contrary to Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling for an end to crackdowns on the press, more than fourteen months ago, acting against Press coverage of Ban Ki-moon's links to UN corruption cases, the UN Department of Public Information had Inner City Press physically ousted from the UN.  Audio here.

 Since then an UNrelenting campaign of harassment by UN Security (DSS) and the requirement that Inner City Press unlike other media have minders to stake-out public events in the UN has continued.  Yet "new" Secretary General Guterres, on May 4 his 123st day in charge of the UN, won't be attending the UN's World Press Freedom day, instead sending a video message from 38 floors above, according to the program.  On May 3, Innner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric these questions for World Press Freedom Day, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Couple of World Press Freedom Day questions for you.  Some are… are not actually about the UN itself, so I know, I think, how you’ll answer.  I wanted to ask, on Thailand — in Thailand, an event scheduled to be today was disallowed by the military junta.  Meanwhile, in Cameroon, there’s a journalist, Ahmed Abba, sentenced to 10 years for reporting on the Boko Haram conflict, and there’s an Amnesty International report on Nigeria.  And I’m just wondering, I did see António Guterres’ statement.  How is the UN actually following up on that to… on these three cases or anything else you say, to actually convey to Governments that, at least on one day a year, they shouldn’t disallow journalist events?

Spokesman:  I think on… at no time should Governments be putting any hindrance on the work of journalists.  I will look into the specific cases you mention, but I think our… the Secretary-General’s principled stand is elaborated in his statement, and some of these issues are being addressed with… addressed through more discreet channels and others are being taken up directly with Governments.

Inner City Press: I guess in the… in the… in the question, for example, the Thailand one, it’s pretty widely… it’s been widely reported.  Is the Resident Coordinator there?  The, whoever… is the UN presence there in the country?  Do they have a response to it?

Spokesman:  In most of these countries, there’s also a human rights presence, and I would encourage you to check with them.

  Call it outsourcing, to go along with offshoring. Also absent on May 4, according to the program, will be DPI's Officer in Charge  Maher Nasser - who did, according to a leak from disgruntled sources, ask the UN's partner UNCA to fill the room. It's the UN Censorship Alliance, while the UN doesn't even have basis due process rules for journalists. The program say, "For the full Concept Note and more information please access: [Inner City Press noted this links to the 2016 WPF Day]
Moderator: Margaret Novicki, Officer-in-Charge, Department of Public Information
Opening Remarks:
Video Message from António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
H.E. Ms. Sofia Borges, Special Adviser to the President of the General Assembly
H.E. Mr. Jan Kickert, Permanent Representative of Austria, Chairperson, UNGA Committee on Information
Marie Paule Roudil, UNESCO Representative to the UN, Director of UNESCO’s New York Office
Sherwin Bryce-Pease, President, United Nations Correspondents Association
Moderator: Ramu Damodaran, Acting Director, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information
David Scharia, Chief of Branch, UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)
Jay Rosen, Associate Professor, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University
Sarah L. Ryley, Investigative and Data Journalist, The Trace
Bob Garfield, Co-host, public radio’s "On the Media"; MediaPost Columnist; Founder, Media Future Summit
Emma Daly, Director of Communications, Human Rights Watch"

   Guterres has put out a statement that "on World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all." What about the UN's crackdown on the Press, without hearing or appeal, and the crackdowns of WIPO and FAO Inner City Press has asked the UN about, on before of the Free UN Coalition for Access whose sign DPI threatened to tear down, before evicting Inner City Press without a hearing or appeal? We'll have more on this. For now, 7-minute video here.

  Petition here. On the afternoon of April 26 to cover a UN Security Council meeting about peacekeeping in Africa, Inner City Press unlike other media was required to get a minder, which was not immediately available. After several Ambassadors spoke to Inner City Press, about that meeting, Western Sahara, Syria, North Korea, the UN's lack of reform and other issues, the DPI minder or escort told Inner City Press it had to leave. This as Morocco state media, that used to work for the UN, walked up and down the second floor freely, along with other correspondents. This came after Inner City Press was banned in the morning from an "open" meeting of the Burundi Peacekeeping Commission, which it covers; it asked holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric without response. While DPI "Officer in Charge" Maher Nasser's lone response has been "Matthew U have same access as 3000 other journalists," that is false. As simply one example, on April 25 when the UN Security Council met on Western Sahara, Morocco state journalists were allowed free access up and down the second floor of the UN, and Inner City Press was not. On April 26, despite claims by DPI that DSS "gives priority" at the metal detectors, there was a single long line and Inner City Press despite arriving early was late to cover the UN Security Council. It appears that the DPI executive who use accreditation as their personal or national way to settle scores don't even watch the UN noon briefing, where Inner City Press asks the most questions. Or maybe that's the reason for these ongoing restrictions and threats or worse. We'll have more on this. Another new low: after a few days of Inner City Press using a table left by the UN in the UN lobby to work, including editing videos of Antonio Guterres' spokesman's non-answered about censorship in Cameroon, on April 18 the UN Department of Public Information which evicted Inner City Press for reporting on corruption told it "multiple people" want it to stop using the table. On what basis? If UN staff and others use it? Apparently the goal is to, post-eviction, make Inner City Press disappear, or to stop it from being contacted by sources about UN corruption. A diplomat, told of DPI's "disgusting" statement Requests have been made to the top floor of the UN. Watch this site. Also, unlike other media, now Inner City Press has a "witching hour" of 7 pm, after which its pass does not work. This meant, for example, that the "Peace Is" event in the General Assembly lobby, ironically overseen by the Department of Public Information and its Officer in Charge Maher Nasser, Inner City Press could only cover until 6:56 pm, in the middle of a performance of flutes and dancers. Periscope video here. The Officer in Charge has still not substantively responded to the straight forward requests submitted to him in writing 11 days ago. We'll have more on this.

  On April 10, Inner City Press was required to get a UN Department of Public Information minder to cover a meeting on "Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly Third thematic debate on the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads." Ambassadors then approached Inner City Press to say, among other things, they favored a single term for the Secretary General and other top officials, to preserve independence from pressure from the most powerful countries to get a second term. Then a UN Security supervisor, who last week banned a Latin American ambassador from speaking to Inner City Press, had his underlying guard come to demand to see Inner City Press' minder - this while he allowed another correspondent, reportedly vying for a UN job, to run down the hall after a diplomat. Meanwhile a DPI official stiffly walked by, follow by the UN Security official responsible for this. This is today's UN: corrupt. More to follow.

  On April 7, the annual Rwanda genocide commemoration by the UN which failed so badly in 1994 took place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. To cover it as it has in previous years, Inner City Press was required to get a DPI minder to escort it; the minder stayed while diplomats approached Inner City Press to speak, including about the UN's current failures on Burundi and Cameroon as well as Yemen and Syria. Then the DPI minder said, You have to go, and escorted Inner City Press back outside the turnstile. When the event ended Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who had sat on the podium with the DPI Officer in Charge Maher Nasser who has had before him for a week Inner City Press' formal request for restoration, gave through the turnstiles to head to the elevator. He passed, seemingly oblivious, by the very location of censorship, chatting with a staffer whose promotion Inner City Press has covered (which Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric called "despicable"). This is today's UN.

  Back on April 3, the continuing restrictions by DPI meant that after entering through the UN metal detectors and having its backpack / office searched in detail, Inner City Press has to request a DPI "minder" to stakeout the day's meeting on UN Security Council reform. As other correspondents walked by without minders, Inner City Press was behind a red rope. When a Latin American country's Permanent Representative approached Inner City Press to ask questions - ironically, one was about DPI's censorship - a UN Security official came over to "break it up." This is censorship, and has been raised.

  On March 31, the day after a ghoulish farewell event for DPI's Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press was still restricted, and could not for example stake-out a UN Security Council session about "hybrid war" without being overseen by a UN minder. This is censorship.

  Back on March 23, because it is still unlike other UN correspondents required to enter through the metal detectors with tourists, Inner City Press was unable to cover the UN Security Council meeting beginning with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whom it wished to ask about the cut off of internet to Anglophones in Cameroon for more than 60 days. Call it double censorship, with the UN's role as shameful. Gallach's Department of Public Information claims that the press it has evicted is facilitated through the metal detectors, around tourists whom DPI propogandizes. This DPI claim is false, as are so many. Mend it or end it.

 On March 6, Inner City Press had to curtail coverage of an event in the UN General Assembly lobby about Sexual Violence in Conflict, including the rapes in Minova in Eastern Congo about which alone asked UN Peaekeeping's Herve Ladsous until he stopped answering, because of Gallach's ongoing curfew: 7 pm. After that hour, unlike other correspondents in the UN, Inner City Press' pass no longer opens even the first turnstile (it still does not open the second floor turnstile at any hour).  So Inner City Press had to suspend broadcasting amid the speech by new Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed.

   Quickly before having to leave altogether, Inner City Press went to the Ghana National Day it was invited to and Periscoped the Permanent Representative's speech, here, including on Security Council reform which Inner City Press asked Deputy SG Mohammed about and a dance afterward, here. And then it had to go, under Gallach's censorship order. Ghoulishly, Inner City Press is informed that Gallach may even be re-applying to keep the post that has been advertised. That would be a travesty: Gallach's unilateral decisions must be reversed. Watch this site.

  On March 1, 2017, Inner City Press was unable to cover an event on the UN Conference Building's second floor to which it had been invited. It informed the sponsor that due to Gallach's evicting order and reduction in Inner City Press' accreditation, it can still not get through the turnstile to the second floor. So the sponsor moved to put Inner City Press on the list of public guests to enter through the General Assembly lobby but was told not, that is not possible for the Press. So, entirely Banned - while the Egyptian state media to which Gallach is trying to give Inner City Press' long time shared office, Akhbar al Yom, rarely comes in, and asks no questions at all.

   Meanwhile, despite the top job of DPI that Gallach has so badly mishandled being opened for applications, on March 1 some said Gallach is trying to stay on in the job. That would be a travesty, not only in light of her no due process eviction of and continuing restrictions on the Press, but also her failure to do any due diligence on Ng Lap Seng, under house arrest for UN bribery. Gallach is responsible for DPI's "Wonder Woman as UN Ambassador" fiasco, and paid public funds for a trainer to tell DPI-accredited NGOs that Detroit, Michigan is a "third rate city" in "flyover country." Staying on at the UN even now reflects what's wrong and budget cut-worthy in today's UN. Anything past March 31, in any capacity, would just make it worse. Watch this site.

   The continuing hindrance of Inner City Press' coverage ranges from formal General Assembly meetings to February 20 events on "revitalizing the General Assembly" to the SDGs and even the death of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

  Inner City Press arrived early at the UN to cover revitalization or reform, but could only get to the area in front of the meeting when accompanied by an escort, and a watchful minder throughout. Several diplomats commented on it; some saying they'd like to talk with the Press, but not like this. This is censorship, targeted censorship. Other correspondents who do not cover the UN as closely or critically wandered by without any minders required.

  After news broke of the death of Ambassador Churkin, Inner City Press returned for a 3 pm meeting at which, because of the death, a handful of other correspondents also staked out. But while the UN correctly allow them to roam, Inner City Press was limited to a penned in area, even as the SDGs were discussed. Given what DPI under Gallach claims, this is hypocrisy, too. And it must end.

  Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom's rarely present correspondent Sanaa Youssef to whom Gallach is trying to give Inner City Press' shared UN office was once again not present, and has yet to ask a single questions. This is a scam.

 On February 17 for the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

  Wanting to ask about disappearance from Kenya to Western Sahara, Inner City Press arrived early to get the still-required minder to accompany it to the area in front of the Trusteeship Council Chamber, where other journalists and it before the retaliatory eviction one year ago could go without any minder.  But there was a delay, and be the time Inner City Press was escorted, the sponsors and attendees had already gone in. A pen that several interlocutors called absurd was established.

  Inside, a Moroccan "inter-ministerial delegate" talked about armed conflict in "the southern part of our country" - that would be Western Sahara. France along with Argentina announced a pledge. But the delay and restrictions made it impossible to pursue these or other questions. This is a pattern.

  Back on January 24, there was an event ironically about "propaganda." Here was the definition given, in this tweeted photo.

 While the event went on, Inner City Press under Gallach's 11-month old eviction order was required to leave before 7 - its UN pass stops working in UN turnstiles at that time.

  On January 17, for an event involving Gallach herself as a speaker, despite having been invited -- not by the UN -- and having its RSVP confirmed, Inner City Press was stopped by UN Security and not allowed to enter. Video here.

     In any event, with the UN pass that Gallach has reduced, Inner City Press cannot get through any turnstiles to work after 7 pm. Gallach herself appears in the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe (RIP) UN bribery case, at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20b, as having done no due diligence of Ng Lap Seng's buying of UN events and even its Slavery Memorial. Audit here.

   She and Ban Ki-moon, to punish and make more difficult coverage of their links to these cases, evicted Inner City Press and restrict it to this day, 11 months later. As to Ban, Inner City Press on January 17 appeared in a 19-minute interview about corruption and censorship on Seoul's TBS radio. On the lower profile, entirely unaccountable Gallach, we'll have more.

This is a litmus test of press (UN) freedom.

Gallach's censorship order of February 2016 prevented Inner City Press in December 2016, for the first time in years, from covering the UN budget process, including on human rights and Burundi, another of Ban Ki-moon's failures.

For years Inner City Press has been virtually alone in covering the late night Fifth (Budget) Committee session in which billions of dollars are carved up. But in 2016 for the first time, following Gallach's retaliatory eviction order and ghoulish restriction regime of minders and the putting off of pass, Inner City Press could not cover the budget.

   By seizing Inner City Press' long time office -- and awarding it to an Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom whose correspondents Sanaa Youssef rare comes to the UN and never asks questions -- Gallach and Ban have made so that Inner City Press cannot enter the UN after 7 pm. But that, of course, is when the budget process happens.

   In December 2016, for example, Burundi cut the funds for human rights observers and the UN mission the Security Council mandated but has yet to deploy. Inner City Press covers these, but was Banned from covering the process by Gallach. This is a cover up.

    Meanwhile Gallach is showing her true colors with article such as that “amateurs” killed journalism. Really? Energetic online media that actually covers UN corruption is a threat to deadbeat stenography or non-existent journalism like that of Akhbar al Yom's correspondent?

Gallach is the wrong person to have control of the UN Department of Public Information. She also did no due diligence on Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng in the John Ashe case, and is responsible for the UN's Wonder Woman fiasco. She must go.


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