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Statements


HKJA urges UN to allow Taiwanese journalists to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA)


His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General of the United Nations
United Nations Organisation
New York, NY 10017
USA
Via e-mail: [email protected]
 
cc. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO c/o [email protected]
 
 
Dear Secretary-General Ban,
 
        The Hong Kong Journalists Association is gravely concerned with the United Nations’ refusal to grant passes to journalists holding Taiwanese passports or working for Taiwanese media outlets.
 
         Despite calls from international and local media organizations, the UN maintained the discriminatory measures in barring Taiwanese journalists from covering the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the ground that Taiwan is not a member of the UN.
 
        It is a blatant violation of press freedom and the principle of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which grants everyone the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, …, or through any other media of his choice.” As the world knows, the ICCPR is a UN treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
Moreover, Article 2 of the Declaration provides that all rights set forth therein apply to everyone, and that “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs”.
 
We, therefore totally reject the justification, as well as the decision made herewith, for the UN’s discrimination against Taiwanese journalists based on the political status of their origin.
 
It is also unacceptable for the WHO to endorse such human rights violation measures. As WHO stated in its website, “In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats.” Without the access to the meeting of the WHA, people of Taiwan will be blocked from the collective defence mechanism whose effectiveness will be thus undermined.
 
In addition, the denial of accreditation of journalists from non-member states is a slap on WHO’s own face. 
 
The HKJA calls on the UN to adhere to Article 19 of the ICCPR, return to its original policy of providing credentials to journalists irrespective of their origin, and work to ensure that no journalists are denied access to major news events in the future. We also call on the UN to set a high standard of press freedom and uphold basic journalistic rights by allowing Taiwanese journalists to attend and report on the WHA which is going to be held from May 19th onward.
 
                                                                          Yours Sincerely
                                                             2007/08 Executive Committee
                                                         Hong Kong Journalists Association
18/04/2008 16:31   updated more
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