Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Journalists' group slams UN over Taiwanese press

SCATHING The IFJ described the UN's policy of excluding Taiwan's journalists from the World Health Assembly as politically motivated

CNA , BRUSSELS

The Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) renewed its protest on Wednesday over the UN's policy of excluding Taiwanese journalists from reporting at the annual World Health Assembly, which is set to commence on May 22 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Letter

In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the IFJ called for a review of the policy, which the IFJ said is not based upon clear resolutions of the UN General Assembly and gives the appearance of being politically motivated.

"It is impossible not to conclude that this policy is political discrimination against independent, professional journalists and is unworthy of a global institution that stands for free speech and independent journalism," the IFJ said.

The IFJ said it fully supports the Taiwan Journalists Association in its protest over the ban.

Doubts

Also in the letter, the IFJ expressed "serious doubts" about the commitment of the UN Human Rights Council to deliver on its promise of free expression, as a number of the countries elected to the council, including China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, are states where press freedom is suppressed.

Meanwhile, the IFJ raised concerns about UN plans for a global terrorism policy, which includes action to "dissuade people from resorting to or supporting terrorist acts," saying that this could be used as an excuse to justify interference in the work of the media.

"We know that some countries use the cover of `anti-terrorism' to undermine the rights of citizens and to attack independent journalism. The UN should not do anything that encourages member states to go down this road," the IFJ said.

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