UN Claims Restricted Press Access Is Fine, Says “People Are Free To Demonstrate”
Mar 9, 2016 — On protests to the UN restricting the Press, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman on March 8 said, "People are free to demonstrate." Video at https://youtu.be/umJUxfKPliM
Inner City Press at the UN is as of March 8 not allowed to cover anything on the second floor of the UN conference building (ECOSOC, Trusteeship Council), cannot effectively edit videos of UN Q&A, and must leave the building by 7 pm and cannot conduct interviews in it, while Banned from its office. These are restrictions.
But USG Cristina Gallach continues to repeat the mantra that reducing the Press' ability to do journalism at the UN by 60% is fine. Outside of this petition, a group wrote to her that
"it is paramount importance that journalists of Mr. Lee's caliber continue to monitor the UN system and we firmly stand behind him. We urge you to resolve the dispute with him and restore to Mr. Lee his Resident Correspondent accreditation and ICP's long-time office which he uses to do his journalistic work. We do not find the punishment in your February 19 letter to be proportionate even to what it's claimed he did: seek to cover an even in the UN's own Press Briefing Room. Why was that meeting in that UN Press Briefing Room anyway, if it was 'private'?"
This question -- who "lent' the UN Press Briefing Room to a group connected to the very UN bribery scandal discussed on March 8 in the UN Budget Committee, here, and why -- has yet to be answered. Instead, USG Gallach replied:
"I can firmly clarify to you that Mr Lee has a press pass that allows him total access to press conferences, media stake outs and press conferences in the UN building. I am convinced that the coverage about the issues you care most is totally will be not at all affected."
That is not the case. Inner City Press is now restricted from the entire second floor of the UN conference building, must leave the building by 7 pm, cannot conduct interviews or edit videos in its long time shared office - all for trying to cover a meeting, in the Press Briefing Room, of an entity also connected by South South to the UN bribery scandal?
USG Gallach's response was cc-ed to Ban's spokesman Dujarric, who cannot claim to not know the restrictions on the pass Inner City Press has been, without due process, confined to. On March 8 he said, we will not characterize it, "People are free to demonstrate."
Dujarric also said, as to a letter, that "a letter written by someone to the Secretary-General, it will be answered to that person." So what about this petition, now with more than 1,000 signatures? (Thanks).
Will Ban Ki-moon be answering all 1000+ people? Please go public if you get anything from him.
On March 7 in Baden-Baden Ban said, "journalists face growing efforts to silence their voices – through harassment, censorship and attacks. Journalists are not criminals. But they are often mistreated."
Note: on February 19, Inner City Press was physically ousted from the UN Security Council stakeout where it was writing up the evening's Syria meeting and was told "you are a trespasser" in the UN and that it would be handed over to NYPD. Audio here.
"During the past nine years as Secretary-General, I have been working hard to defend the press."
Well, the above happened on February 19, and restrictions remain in place with no right to appeal, and no due process. Ban and his senior advisers have been informed of it. We must continue, to oppose a precedent of no due process or free freedom for journalists at the UN, and then elsewhere. UNfree Press.