By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive | Inner City Press
UNITED NATIONS, June 27 — The day after Inner City Press noted, reported and asked the UN about the removal from the Internet of the "Report of the Secretary General on Eritrea," Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed that Ban's Secretariat was responsible for taking the report down.
We are publishing the June 8 report which "the Secretariat" has confirmed will not be put online again.
Inner City Press asked who it was in the Secretariat that prepared the report, that "the Secretariat" took down, and asked for confirmation that countries such as Ethiopia and the United States complained about the report. Nesirky would not answer either question, except to say that when the report was looked at "again," it was concluded that it was "not an adequate response" to Resolution 2023.
As Inner City Press exclusively reported on June 15, there were rumblings that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would change his 44-paragraph Eritrea report, like
"the two versions of the last report on Western Sahara were watered down to drop allegations against Morocco of limiting freedom of movement of the peacekeepers.
"Inner City Press exclusively learned on Friday that a similar amateurish post-publication is taking place on the forthcoming report on Eritrea. The report already has a number (S/2012/412) and has been on the UN's ODS Official Document Service.
"But unlike the Western Sahara watering down, in this case it's a matter of watering UP — Ethiopia and others are said to want the report to be more damning of Asmara. And so it goes at the UN."
Then on the morning of June 26 Inner City Press reported that while the "Report of the Secretary-General on Eritrea, S/2012/412, 8 June 2012" was still LISTED on the Security Council's web site, the S/2012/412 link had gone dead, leading to a message on the UN's ODS Official Document Service that "There is no document matching your request / Pas de reponse a votre demande."
On June 26 at the UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked about Inner City Press: the report of the Secretary-General on Eritrea, that was actually, dated 8 June, that was put on the Security Council’s website. It was available there, on that, I heard, starting around 15 June, there were some concerns raised by other neighbours of Eritrea about the report. And this morning I learned and confirmed that the report’s gone from the website. Still listed there, but the link is now dead. And the document is not available. And I wondered, can you explain what happened to the report? And what’s, is it being changed? At whose behest? Why did they, why was it taken offline so unceremoniously?
Spokesperson Nesirky: Thanks for the question. But Matthew, I don’t have anything on that at the moment. But I’m hoping to have something a little bit later.
Twenty four hours later, Nesirky read out his statement that when looked at "again.. the Secretariat" decided the report was "not an adequate response" to Resolution 2023.
As circulated, Ban Ki-moon's report for example quoted Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki telling Ban in September 2011 that "the border issue with Ethiopia was a 'closed chapter' and that there was 'nothing to negotiate.'" See, Paragraph 17.
It recited Ban's July 24, 2011 meeting with "Eritrean Foreign Minister and Political Adviser to the Eritrean President" on Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Darfur. (See Inner City Press video of Yemane Ghebreab at that time, here on Inner City Press' YouTube channel with 28,000 views and counting.)
The June 8, 2012 report recited Eritrea's objections to Security Council manuevers in late November and early December 2011, exclusively reported by Inner City Press, which even after protest would only have allowed Isaias Afwerki, President of a country facing unprecedented sanctions, to speak to the Council AFTER the resolution was put in blue and finalized for a vote.
But now all of that has been taken off line, as if it never existed. A diplomat from one of Eritrea's neighbors explained to Inner City Press that the June 8 report just "wasn't right," that it was not like other sanctions reports and not what his country has in mind.
This was the approach taken when Department of Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous changed and watered down the most recent Western Sahara report. As many noted, but only Inner City Press explicitly emphasized, Ladsous is the fourth French chief of DPKO in a row, whose previous job was to serve discredited French foreign minister Michele Aliot-Marie including arranging her flights on planes of cronies of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali.
Since then, Ladsous refuses to answer Inner City Press' questions; Big Five media have moved to expel Inner City Press, now led by US government owned Voice of America asking the UN to review Inner City Press' accreditation status.
But who — not which countries, which is obvious, but which UN official beyond Ban Ki-moon — is responsible for taking off line the Eritrea report, and what will happen and be issued next?
For now, we are publishing the June 8 report which "the Secretariat" has confirmed will not be put online again.