Ban dis­ap­pointed by UN re­jec­tion of press free­dom watch­dog

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - (AFP)

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon is deeply dis­ap­pointed by a UN de­ci­sion to deny the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists spe­cial sta­tus at the world body, his spokesman said Fri­day.

A UN com­mit­tee voted on Thurs­day to re­ject the press free­dom watch­dog’s re­quest for ac­cred­i­ta­tion as a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, by a vote of 10 to 6, with three ab­sten­tions.

Ban “be­lieves they do valu­able work” and is “deeply dis­ap­pointed” by the de­ci­sion, which would block the CPJ’s ac­cess to UN bod­ies, in­clud­ing the Geneva-based Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, said spokesman Farhan Haq.

“Jour­nal­ists al­ready are fac­ing un­due re­stric­tions on their work in many, many parts of the world and or­ga­ni­za­tions that are ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing jour­nal­ists shouldn’t face re­stric­tions at the United Na­tions,” he added.

Rus­sia, China, Su­dan and South Africa were among the 10 coun­tries that voted against the re­quest for the CPJ to be granted spe­cial con­sul­ta­tive sta­tus at the world body.

The United States, which voted in fa­vor, said it would bring the CPJ’s re­quest in July to the full 54-mem­ber Eco­nomic and So­cial Coun­cil to try to over­ride the de­ci­sion.

In a re­ver­sal, South Africa on Fri­day said it sup­ported CPJ’s re­quest and would vote in fa­vor when it comes up for a vote in ECOSOC.

“We re­gret the mis­un­der­stand­ing and the wrong mes­sage that the lack of ex­pla­na­tion of our vote in the NGO Com­mit­tee could have por­trayed,” said a state­ment from South Africa’s in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions depart­ment.

Pre­to­ria praised the CPJ for its “out­stand­ing and ster­ling work” and said it sup­ports “the role that jour­nal­ists play in democ­racy and free so­ci­eties.”

Azerbaijan, Bu­rundi, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pak­istan and Venezuela also op­posed the re­quest from the CPJ, which has taken up the plight of jour­nal­ists jailed world­wide for their re­port­ing.

- Tar­get­ing NGOs -Diplo­mats said the vote was in­dica­tive of a grow­ing back­lash against NGOs at the United Na­tions, in par­tic­u­lar those who de­fend re­pro­duc­tive rights and are vo­cal on LGBT is­sues and free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

Ear­lier this month, at least 20 NGOs, most of whom are ac­tive on gay rights, were barred from tak­ing part in a ma­jor AIDS con­fer­ence in June af­ter 51 Mus­lim coun­tries, Rus­sia and African na­tions protested.

The UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on the rights to free­dom of peace­ful assem­bly and of as­so­ci­a­tion, Maina Kiai of Kenya, said the same gov­ern­ments that are restrict­ing civil so­ci­ety at home are now tar­get­ing the United Na­tions.

“They are do­ing this by hi­jack­ing, and sub­se­quently clos­ing, the main door used by civil so­ci­ety to en­ter the United Na­tions sys­tem: the Com­mit­tee on NGOs,” said Kiai.

French Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre said the vote was “deeply dis­ap­point­ing and dis­turb­ing” and could only be un­der­stood as a reprisal against the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists.

“Jour­nal­ists al­ready are fac­ing un­due re­stric­tions on their work in many, many parts of the world and or­ga­ni­za­tions that are ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing jour­nal­ists shouldn’t face re­stric­tions at the United Na­tions.”

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban-Ki-moon. Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima

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