Reporters Without Borders (RSF), speaking to the meeting about freedom of expression and opinion, protested strongly about the presence of delegates from China, Iran, Burma, Vietnam, Cuba and Zimbabwe - countries where press freedom is abused and journalists regularly imprisoned. It also pointed out that some countries sitting on the Commission - Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia - had not signed or ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose Article 19 guarantees freedom of expression. "In those countries, the government gags the media with complete impunity, yet here in Geneva, they are called upon to pass judgement on other countries in matters of human rights," the RSF representative said.
Since the last meeting of the Commission, the press freedom situation in the world has deteriorated. The fight against terrorism, whatever its justification, has led to greater repression in dictatorships such as China but has also seen a reduction in basic freedoms, especially freedom of expression, in many democracies. Even in some European Union states, threats to diversity and freedom of information arose or increased.
For all these reasons, RSF asked the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion to monitor the press freedom situation in democratic countries, especially the United States.
RSF also deplored the absence of any resolutions condemning the human rights situation in countries such as Eritrea, where journalists face systematic repression.
RSF deplored too the continuing impunity concerning attacks on journalists, notably in Israel and the Occupied Territories, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ukraine, Haiti and Colombia, and asked the Commission to press these government to stop hindering the legal punishment of these abuses.
RSF also asked the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Opinion and on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions to pay special attention to investigations into the murders of journalists.
In the present deteriorating state of freedom of expression, RSF called on the Commission to forthrightly condemn, without regard for short-term considerations, all countries that attacked press freedom.