TV crew expelled from UN meeting on freedom of expression

23rd January 2009, Comments 3 comments

The journalists were working on a documentary on how the issue of human rights is debated at the United Nations.

Geneva -- A television production crew was expelled Thursday from a United Nations meeting discussing freedom of expression and defamation of religions.

Two journalists from the French-German cultural channel ARTE were asked to leave a meeting room at the UN's European headquarters during a public session of a human rights body preparing for a racism conference in Geneva later this year.

The journalists were working on a documentary on how the issue of human rights is debated at the United Nations.

According to a diplomatic source, the expulsion announced by the chairman of the session, Russian representative Yuri Boychenko, was requested by the Organisation of Islamic Conference and by the African group of states.

"It is regrettable that he was not informed of the procedures that allow a public session to become a private one," Marie Heuze, chief spokeswoman at the UN in Geneva said.

The expulsion took place when the debate was raging on freedom of expression and the defamation of religions, two issues which are proving particularly sensitive in a proposed declaration for the conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to Muslim participants, human rights should take into account defamation of religions, while the Europeans are opposed to its inclusion.

A British delegate said any mention of this concept in the resolution "damages the prospects" of a successful conference in Geneva.

According to a diplomatic source, at least three European countries -- Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands, have threatened to boycott the conference if the resolution is accepted.

The United States, Canada and Israel have already said they would not attend the event, which is scheduled to take place April 20 to 24.

The earlier 2001 Durban conference on racism, held just a few days before the September 11 attacks on the United States and against the backdrop of the second Palestinian intifada, ended in acrimony amid accusations of anti-Semitism.


3 Comments To This Article

  • Tony posted:

    on 24th January 2009, 05:25:55 - Reply

    Well said Joseph, the UN should have been disbanded long ago.
  • gilmas posted:

    on 23rd January 2009, 21:05:35 - Reply

    Well said.
  • Joseph posted:

    on 23rd January 2009, 18:49:41 - Reply

    If this keeps occurring the UN is going to have nothing but Islamic theocratic governments and failed African states dictating what kind of speech is and is not protected under freedom of speech. Basically freedom of speech is being re-defined by societies who hold customs that the west has spent centuries trying to purge itself of.