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IPA CRITICISES UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DURING FREE EXPRESSION GATHERING IN TURKEY

The director of the International Publishers Association (IPA) criticised the UN Human Rights Council for not improving the conditions of free expression worldwide at a conference in Turkey last week, reports IPA.

At the 5th Gathering in Istanbul for Freedom of Expression, Alexis Krikorian, director of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, said the UN council had "failed to improve the record of the late Commission on Human Rights."

Krikorian pointed to the controversial resolution adopted at the council's conference on 30 March. Presented as a measure to protect the religious sensibilities of Muslims, the resolution stated that freedom of expression may be restricted "to ensure respect for religions and convictions." The resolution was sponsored by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and was passed by the council 24 to 14, with nine abstentions.

Other IFEX members including ARTICLE 19, Freedom House and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), have also recently condemned the "anti-blasphemy" provision.

The 5th Gathering for Freedom of Expression concluded with a forum devoted to freedom of expression in Turkey and neighbouring countries, attended by journalists, lawyers and press freedom organisations, including IFEX member IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET). Participants called for the abolition of Article 301, which makes "insulting Turkishness" a crime punishable by prison terms.

The Gathering is supported by Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, Freemuse, Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, International PEN and IPA.

Visit these links:
- 5th Gathering: http://www.antenna-tr.org/istanbul/index.asp?lgg=en
- IPA: http://tinyurl.com/3x6geb
- UN Human Rights Commission debate and resolution:
http://www.ishr.ch/hrm/council/dailyupdates/session_004/30_march_2007.pdf
- BIANET: http://www.bianet.org/index_eng_root.htm
- ARTICLE 19 on UN resolution: http://tinyurl.com/2waaza
- Freedom House on UN resolution: http://tinyurl.com/3acyz6
- WAN on UN resolution: http://www.wan-press.org/article13876.html
(5 June 2007)

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