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UN committee denies credentials to press freedom group

May 26, 2016 - 12:29 PM

A United Nations committee voted Thursday to deny consultative status to the Committee to Protect Journalists, effectively keeping the press freedom group from accessing U.N. bodies and processes.

The committee voted 10-6 with three abstentions on Thursday to deny CPJ's application, which was first made in 2012.

South Africa, China and Russia were among the countries that voted against accreditation for the New York-based organization that seeks to protect press freedoms around the world and in conflict zones.

Consultative status gives non-governmental organizations the right to attend open meetings and conferences, especially the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

CPJ's application for consultative status had been deferred seven times for procedural reasons before coming up for a vote at the request of the United States.

Human rights groups and Western powers have criticized the U.N.'s NGO committee for increasingly rejecting organizations, especially those supporting human and gay rights.

In Thursday's session, however, South Africa questioned the group's finances, noting it was running a deficit and criticized it for not supporting punishment for hate speech.

In a statement, CPJ called the application process "Kafkaesque."

"It is sad that the U.N., which has taken up the issue of press freedom through Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and through the adoption of the U.N. Action Plan, has denied accreditation to CPJ, which has deep and useful knowledge that could inform decision making," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement.

"A small group of countries with poor press freedom records are using bureaucratic delaying tactics to sabotage and undermine any efforts that call their own abusive policies into high relief," he said.

Ambassador Samantha Power said the U.S. would appeal the committee's decision to the full 54-member Economic and Social Council of which the 19-member committee is a part.

"We are extremely disappointed by today's vote. It is increasingly clear that the NGO committee acts more and more like an anti -NGO committee," Power said.

Azerbaijan, Burundi, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sudan and Venezuela also voted against CPJ's application.

Earlier this month, major Western nations protested a move by 51 Muslim countries to block gay and transgender groups from attending a high-level U.N. conference on AIDS.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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