Journalists had also been barred entry at two previous conferences ,in Moscow and Seoul.
The World Health Organisation has done it again. After denying journalists access to the last two Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s Conference of the Parties in Moscow and Seoul, the WHO on Monday decided to keep journalists out of the edition now underway in Noida.
The WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is a treaty signed by member-nations that aims to tackle the global tobacco epidemic of diseases. The Noida event, the seventh meeting related to the convention, is being held between November 7 and November 12.
At the event, member countries will discuss issues related to tobacco including tobacco taxation, tobacco advertising and illicit trade. But on Monday evening, the member-states voted to keep the public and press out of the conference. Scroll.in has sent an email to the conference’s public relations head asking why the decision was taken. The article will be updated if he replies.
Approximately 30 foreign journalists have travelled to India for the conference. On Monday, American journalist Drew Johnson wrote on Scroll.in about the possibility of journalists being kept out of this meeting and described the experiences at the conferences at Seoul in 2012 and Moscow in 2014.
“Rather than taking a vote to prohibit journalists, WHO officials simply decided the press was no longer welcome. When I attempted to attend a session before the decision to ban the press was announced, I was told I would be arrested if I stayed – even thought I had press credentials and every reason to be there. A large security guard then grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out of the meeting hall.”
In the piece, Johnson appealed for greater transperancy on the part of WHO.
In order to effectively encouraging countries to reduce tobacco consumption, the WHO and the COP must first prove they are trustworthy partners concerned about public health and acting in the best interest of the public. That will never be possible until the COP respects press freedom and operates in a transparent and accountable manner.
Johnson, and a few other journalists who had intended to attend the conference, tweeted about the development.