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United Nations14.03.2005

UN human rights commission named as world’s biggest prison for the press
70 posters put up in Geneva, one for each journalist imprisoned by a commission member

A total of 70 journalists are imprisoned in countries that are members of the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. Reporters Without Borders condemns UN leaders’ acceptance of this increasingly serious situation.

As the UN Commission on Human Rights began its 61st session today in Geneva, Reporters Without Borders pointed out that four of the commission’s members - China, Cuba, Eritrea and Nepal - are the countries with the largest number of imprisoned journalists in the world. In all, 70 journalists and 62 cyber-dissidents are detained by countries that are commission members.

To draw attention to this, the press freedom organization today put up 70 posters showing the silhouette of an imprisoned journalist around the perimeter of the United Nations complex in Geneva and on the walls of the city’s streets.

"The United Nations Commission on Human Rights continues to discredit itself," Reporters Without Borders said. "No one can seriously claim today that it does its job properly or that it really helps to improve respect for human rights in the world.

"The UN should get to grips with this problem and immediately and thoroughly change the way this commission works. It is unacceptable that the world’s most repressive countries are members of a body of which one of the main tasks is to condemn human rights violations. We do not understand how the UN’s leaders, and above all secretary-general Kofi Annan, tolerate this."

Reporters Without Borders said it called on the democratic countries to demand the immediate release of these 70 journalists, whose only crime was to exercise the right to freely inform the public.

At least 99 journalists are imprisoned throughout the world for reporting the news or expressing their views. Seventy of them are in the countries that are members of the UN Commission on Human Rights for its 61st session. China (with 27 journalists imprisoned), Cuba (21), Eritrea (13) and Nepal (9) are the world’s biggest prisons for the press. China is also currently holding 62 cyber-dissidents.

The 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is taking place from today until 22 April in the Palais des Nations in Geneva.