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WHO's refusal to accredit Taiwanese journalists for World Health Assembly an infringement on press freedom, says IFJ

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

WHO's ban of Taiwanese journalists an infringement on press freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned over the rejection of accreditation for Taiwanese journalists to cover the 59th annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, for the third year in a row.

"The World Health Organisation's (WHO) refusal to accredit Taiwanese journalists is discriminatory and is undermining the ability of the Taiwanese media to cover world affairs," said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

"The United Nation's decision disregards the basic rights of journalists to report freely on a world event, which is a direct contradiction of the values the UN upholds, and can only be seen as political discrimination," Warren said.

"Journalists are independent individuals and should not be seen as representatives of their country of origin. It is important that Taiwanese journalists be free to cover all major events, including the WHO annual meeting in Geneva," he said.

The refusal of accreditation not only disregards journalists' rights, but also disregards the free flow of information to the public.

"As globalisation has increased cross-border exchanges, heightening the risk of diseases spreading across borders, it is in the interest of all peoples that information concerning the WHA be disseminated as quickly and efficiently as possible", Warren said.

The United Nations decision to refuse Taiwan's participation in the WHA is preventing this from happening.

The IFJ gives its full support to its Taiwanese affiliate, the Association of Taiwanese Journalists, in their protests over the ban.

The IFJ, as a global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has written to the United Nations calling for the UN to uphold Taiwanese journalists' rights.

"We call on the UN and the WHO to view journalists as independent individuals and to provide them credentials irrespective of their country of origin.

The UN needs to set a high standard of respect for press freedom and to uphold basic journalistic rights by allowing our Taiwanese colleagues to attend and report on the World Health Assembly."

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.

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