Petition update

Amid UN's New Bribery Case & Inaction on Cameroon, Inner City Press Requests Same Access As No-Shows

UNfree Press

Jan 24, 2018 — January 24, 2018 - Even as Inner City Press reports exclusively on the second UN bribery case involving Chad and Uganda, $500,000 allegedly paid to UN President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa to benefit China Energy Fund Committee, and UN inaction on abuses from Cameroon to Yemen, the UN keeps it restricted. To covering the GA and its President's office, a UN minder is imposed while it is not on other correspondents, some of whom rarely come in, never ask questions. In January, it is to these that the UN is handing out full access accreditations and office space, including that which the Department of Public Information took without hearing from Inner City Press: state media like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom are rubber stamped for another year's full access by DPI, run by former New York Times editor Alison Smale. Since Smale has refused to respond to this petition - in October she said she saw the need to show the courtesy to respond, but this was immediately followed by another threat to Inner City Press' accreditation, here https://www.patreon.com/posts/14970022 - on January 22 the followed was filed with DPI, seeking a belated end to censorship, during this month of January when resident correspondent status is being handed out to no-show, no-question state media. Inner City Press doesn't ask to be treated better, but does not accept being treated worse, and more restricted. This was filed: "I am writing now to renew and restore my resident correspondent accreditation to cover the United Nations, during this same month of January that the UN is handing out resident correspondent renewals to some who rarely come in, publish little and ask no questions at all. In the past year I have published over 1000 articles about the UN.

This letter tracks and updates my December 1, 2015 request which was granted the same day (that time-frame and precedent is to be followed here); it is supplemented by a more than 5000 signature petition that my resident correspondent accreditation and Inner City Press' long time shared office S-303 be immediately restored: https://www.change.org/p/unsg-antonio-guterres-we-demand-the-un-restore-inner-city-press-access-to-the-un-as-a-resident-correspondent/u/19932155

While I have currently been reduced to a non-resident correspondent accreditation, my years' long resident accreditation was removed without any hearing then or appeal since by now the departed USG of DPI. That no due process decision has been raised in the UN Human Rights Council, twice; it has been the subject of letters to the UNSG from the Government Accountability Project and others and to DPI from the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and on Human Rights Defenders: https://spdb.ohchr.org/hrdb/32nd/public_-_OL_OTH_25.02.16_(15.2016).pdf.

Below the InnerCityPress.com articles to be found in Google News (and Lexis-Nexis, etc), my work covering the UN and for example the Patrick Ho / Gadio / CEFC indictment has been picked up and cited in Hong Kong, Uganda and the Czech Republic: https://hlidacipes.org/cestny-zemanuv-poradce-globalni-korupcni-skandal-skraloup-cefc-ktereho-si-cesko-moc-nevsima/

As well as in Cameroon, Somaliland, Kenya and, pertinent here, Morocco (I’ve noted that journalists from Western Sahara are not accredited, and protest it.) http://funca.info/inside-the-un/unsg-hits-new-low-stakeouts-without-qa-no-end-of-year-presser-amid-bribery-rosewood-scandals-should-not-be-honored-571/

My Twitter feed, @InnerCityPress, now has over 24,000 followers (elevent thousand more than when my December 2015 request to renew resident correspondent status was approved in one day). My and Inner City Press' photographs have been reproduced and credited; the Inner City Press YouTube channel has videos that have received many ten of thousands of views. The same is now true of @InnerCityPress' active and cited Periscope live video feed; my uploads of Scribd have received tens of thousands of views. See, e.g., https://www.scribd.com/doc/307245166/OIOS-Audit-of-Ng-South-South-News-OIOS-Cut-Out-Ban-Photo-Op-with-Ng-at-UNCA-Ball on what I was covering in the underlying non-closed Press Briefing Room event.

This letter incorporates what I sent to the acting Officer in Charge of DPI in April 2017 and to the Under Secretary General of DPI since; Inner City Press notes not only that S-303A is virtual unused but also that DPI has granted resident correspondent status to media who come into the UN less often, and who ask and report less. This is a request for restoration of S-303 and resident correspondent access immediately, after more than 14 months of being hindered in reporting for example on meeting on the Conference Building's 2d floor in ways other correspondents aren't.

While noting that the UN accreditation guidelines state "online media may include news outlets, blogs, vlogs and others," we and the Free UN Coalition for Access reiterate and will be advocating for greater access by new and social media, including for the UN to belatedly define what it means by “wire service.” See also, http://www.freedominfo.org/2014/09/un-lacks-freedom-information/ It is also imperative that the UN institute due process protections, and content neutral accreditation rules, for journalists. But for now, this is a request to renew and restore my resident correspondent accreditation, and S303, forthwith, during this month you are handing such status to some (including as is relevant in S-303, Inner City Press’ work-space) who rarely come in, publish little and ask no questions at all. Awaiting the UN's response. -Matthew Russell Lee


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