RSF condemns U.N. for denying Taiwanese reporters WHA access

Taipei, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a French-based NGO that promotes freedom of the press, on Wednesday condemned the United Nations for refusing to accredit Taiwanese reporters to attend this year's meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA).

"No bona fide journalist should be barred from reporting because of their nationality or the place of registration of the media they work for," said Cedric Alviani, the head of RSF's East Asia bureau, in an email.

"The discrimination made by the U.N. and the WHO (World Health Organization) against the Taiwanese media clearly contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states the right 'to receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,'" Alviani said.

Alviani's response came one day after an application by two CNA reporters to cover the WHA meeting, the decision-making body of the WHO, was rejected.

The U.N. Secretariat's rejection is believed to be a result of Beijing's intervention, which has led to renewed criticism.

Philippe Leruth, president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), told CNA over the phone late Tuesday that the U.N.'s decision was "unacceptable."

It could lead to news "censorship," he said, noting if journalists were denied access to report today because of their nationality, their application for credentials could be turned down tomorrow for other reasons.

Leruth said he will write to the institution(s) responsible for the decision to urge that the right of the international media to cover the annual event is honored.

This is the second year in a row Taiwan has not been invited to attend the WHA, which will hold its 71st session May 21-26 in Geneva.

It is also the second straight year in which an application submitted by CNA to cover the event has been denied.

An e-mail to the CNA journalists from the WHO read: "We regret to inform you that your registration for the meeting has not been approved."

The response offered no explanation as to why the application was rejected.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel