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At UN, Protection of Journalists Is Selective, Based on Content & Medium

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 7 -- When on the topic of protection of journalists the Qatari National Committee for Human Rights brought a delegation to the UN on Friday, it seemed a no-brainer to ask if they included in their definition of journalism state media in Syria and Libya, where Gaddafi's TV channel was bombed by NATO.

 Or, on the other hand as Inner City Press also asked, bloggers like those prosecuted by Bahrain, Abduljalil Alsingace and Ali Abdelemam.

  The answer came from Jim Boumelha of the International Federation of Journalists: "some in the professional do not accept bloggers." Video here.

  Gamfranco Fattorini of PEC noted the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Chris Heyns uses the Council of Europe's 2007 definition of journalism; he cited back to the Munich declaration on 1971. Bloggers, it should be clear, are not included in that 40 year old definition.

  Inner City Press also asked Somali's Omar Faruk Osman if UN envoy Augustine Mahiga does enough on protection of journalists. "The UN has done for us very little," he said, noting killings right next to where the UN is, without visits.

  The Qatari Committee, meanwhile, through the outgoing Qatari President of the General Assembly, says it will be seeking a "new instrument." The session was delayed for 20 minutes waiting for the PGA, who came with his chief of staff and deputy, as well as his two spokespeople.

  PGA Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser's prepared remarks, we note, say that "Freedom of information, which is a fundamental right inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, became subject to threat and suppression." Yep.

   Afterward an attendee mused that Qatar probably paid for the journalists' visit to New York. Qatar wants its hand in everything --  but does it protect journalists? Will it promote a needed Freedom of Information rule at the UN? Watch this site.

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