RSF calls on UN to accredit journalists regardless of their passport
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the United Nations (UN) to open its events to all journalists and media regardless of their geographic origin after two Taiwanese reporters were barred from covering the World Health Assembly.
On 22 May 2023, two journalists from Taiwanese public press agency Central News Agency (CNA), Judy Tseng and Tien Hsi-ju, were barred from covering the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) currently held by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva (Switzerland), despite having their press credentials approved by the United Nations’ administration a week in advance.
Since 2017, bowing to Chinese pressure, WHA has consistently denied press accreditation to Taiwanese nationals and media on the pretext that their country and passports are not officially recognised.
“Refusing journalists’ accreditation based on their nationality or the geographical location of their media registration is clearly discriminatory and against the public’s right to information. We call on the United Nations to open its events to all journalists and media, regardless of their geographic origin.
Taiwanese journalists were not always barred from entering UN events: from 2009 to 2016, when Beijing was seeking a rapprochement with Taipei, and Taiwan delegation was invited to the WHA as an “observer”, the agency readily issued accreditation to Taiwanese reporters. In 2013, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), another UN specialised agency, also invited Taiwan delegation to join its Assembly and allowed the country's media to cover the event.
“We ask for the United Nations to respect the right of journalists to do their job irrespective of their nationalities. The World Health Organisation should mend its way by opening the proceedings of the current World Health Assembly to reporters from Taiwan.
China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan has, over the past years, been lobbying in every possible way to isolate it on the international stage, including by preventing its journalists from covering international events.
Taiwan, a liberal democracy, ranks 35th out of 180 in the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index. China, the world’s largest captor of journalists and press freedom defenders with at least 113 detained, ranks 179th.