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UN urged to stop discriminating against Taiwanese journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders deplores the UN's refusal to issue accreditation to the Taiwanese media for the 63rd session of General Assembly that opened in New York on 16 September 2008. The press freedom organisation recently wrote to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon asking him to help find a way for Taiwan's journalists to be able to cover the General Assembly.

The United Nations has been systematically refusing for years to issue press accreditation to Taiwanese journalists on the grounds that Taiwan is not a UN member state.

"Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou, decided not to apply for membership of the United Nations this year, signalling a desire to improve relations with China," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in his letter to Ban Ki-moon.

"One would hope that the United Nations would take account of this evolution and would do something for the Taiwanese media, especially as there is real respect for press freedom in Taiwan and the country enjoys a degree of media diversity that is unfortunately quite unusual in Asia."

The letter added: "Like Taiwanese journalists' organisations, we regard journalists as individuals who represent only the media they work for, and not their country. We regard this discrimination against Taiwan's journalists as unacceptable."

Taiwanese journalists used to be able to cover the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva but authorisation was withdrawn in 2004 under pressure from the Chinese government.

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