In a shocking attack on fundamental concepts of media freedom and government accountability, the Australian Delegation at the World Health Organisation's WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Meeting currently under way in Delhi voted to eject all journalists and observers from the room, so that negotiations could be conducted in secret without any public scrutiny.
This meeting, partially funded by Australian taxes, and costing millions, is expected to call for further regulation of life-saving tobacco harm reduction technologies, in a move many say is designed to protect government cigarette tax revenues. As discussions were going on, in a move fully supported by the Australian delegation, journalists wanting to report on proceedings were physically removed from the room by security:
The United Nations, under which the WHO falls, has consistently proclaimed its support for press freedom, with outgoing Secretary Ban Ki Moon stating "I urge all Governments, politicians, businesses and citizens to commit to nurturing and protecting an independent, free media. Without this fundamental right, people are less free and less empowered. With it, we can work together for a world of dignity and opportunity for all." So it is particularly disgraceful that the United Nations is refusing to apply this rule to itself.
But that's not all - the FCTC then started blocking journalists on Twitter. Not content with refusing them access to the negotiations, they are now engaging on a vicious campaign of blocking anyone from following them! This is a meeting funded by Australian taxes. Our taxpayers have a right to know how our money is being spent and it is a shameful disgrace that our government has acted to suppress transparency, accountability, and freedom of the press.