Fri, Jul 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

World body slams UN treatment of Taiwan's journalists

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Tuesday demanded the UN ensure that Taiwanese journalists are not denied accreditation for the World Health Assembly and other UN-affiliated conferences.

"The International Federation of Journalists ... expresses its deep concern over the rejection of accreditation for Taiwanese journalists to attend the annual conference of the World Health Organisation in May 2004," wrote IFJ general secretary Aidan White in Tuesday's letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The letter noted that while Taiwan had been excluded from the UN and affiliated bodies since 1971 due to loss of membership and opposition from China, "Taiwanese journalists have always been able to obtain accreditation until now.

"This is doubtless a backward step for the freedom of the press," the letter stated.

The Association of Taiwan Journalists, which is affiliated with the IFJ, said that this was the first time the IFJ had written to the UN with regard to Taiwan's accreditation difficulties.

Association representatives said they were uncertain about whether the letter would hold any sway with the UN.

a way forward

"It's hard to say if the letter can actually achieve our goals, but it's a method, a way forward ... and at the very least the IFJ is the largest association for journalists globally right now," said Ray Chang (張瑞欽), secretary-general of the Association of Taiwan Journalists.

"The point is to use our status as journalists as a bargaining tool," Chang said.

The letter said: "The denial of accreditation has undermined the ability of Taiwanese journalists to cover world affairs. Journalists are independent individuals and should not be seen as representatives of their country of origin."

A motion to support the rights of Taiwanese journalists via public notice and correspondence with the UN was unanimously passed by IFJ members at its 24th World Congress in May.

Copies of the letter have also been sent to World Health Organization director general Lee Jong-wook and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization director general Koichiro Matsuura.

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