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New press accreditation rules may restrict journalists' work

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Press Accreditation Rules May Impede Independent Reporting in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) authority to relax its restrictions on accreditation cards for journalists in China.

GAPP announced on November 7 that only journalists carrying GAPP cards will be considered legitimate professionals. Those who only have press cards issued by media houses will be treated as "illegal".

The IFJ has received complaints from journalists worried that the restriction will severely limit their ability to continue their work in cases where their government-approved press cards have been cancelled or forfeited as a result of publishing material that displeases authorities.

The move follows an announcement by China's Government in October that rules allowing freer reporting by foreign journalists ahead of the Olympic Games would remain in place. The rules, which had been due to expire on October 17, mean foreign reporters are permitted to travel where they wish without prior permission and to interview anyone who is willing to talk to them.

"The GAPP policy on press cards may be regarded as a means to control journalists and to assist authorities in limiting the work of those who report in a manner that does not meet with government approval," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"China's authorities are strongly encouraged to take the same approach to local journalists as they do for foreign journalists, and to guarantee that the press card system is not used to restrict reporting by local media personnel."

The IFJ calls on China's authorities to reconsider the GAPP restrictions in the interests of press freedom and the public's right to information reflecting diverse sources and views.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

For further information on the relaxation of rules governing foreign journalists, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97822

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