RWB facing UN year suspension

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders is facing a year long suspension from the United Nations after Cuba objected to a protest by its supporters in Geneva.

The call by the UN committee on Non-Governmental Organisations for the suspension of the group’s UN consultative status was backed by China, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

It was made after Cuba complained that RWB had physically disrupted the opening of the 59th session of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva on 17 March.

Six RWB activists threw leaflets into the meeting room, when the commission’s Libyan president, Najat Al-Hajjaji, made her inaugural speech. “At last the UN has appointed someone who knows what she’s talking about!” the leaflet said, highlighting Libya’s bad human rights record.

To take effect, the move must be endorsed by the UN General Assembly’s Economic and Social Council, which will consider the proposal in July. The International Federation of Journalists has called on the UN to stop the suspension.

“Many of the countries involved in this decision have a deplorable record over freedom of expression,” said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. “They are in no position to try to stifle the voice of any group that is fighting for press rights.”

By Jon Slattery

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