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Press watchdog denied official status at UN

Russia, South Africa and eight other countries have voted against giving the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) consultative status at the UN. The US was "extremely disappointed" by the UN committee's decision.

The UN non-governmental organization (NGO) committee on Thursday denied press watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) application for consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Ten countries on the 19-member committee, including Russia and South Africa, voted against the application.

Three others abstained from the vote, including Turkey, which has witnessed a decline in press freedom over the past five years, according to Reporters without Borders.

"A small group of countries with poor press freedom records are using bureaucratic delaying tactics to sabotage and undermine any efforts that call their own abusive policies into high relief," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, said she was "extremely disappointed" by the committee's decision, adding that Washington plans to take the accreditation request to the 54-member ECOSOC.

"It is increasingly extremely clear that the NGO committee acts more and more like an anti-NGO committee," Power said.

But a Russian delegate cast into question the CPJ's legitimacy, saying he had "serious doubts about whether this organization really is a non-governmental organization."

The New York-based organization has lambasted Russia's press freedom record for failing to protect journalists' rights.

"Russia has a poor record of impunity in the cases of murdered journalists, which increases intimidation and acts of violence against the press," the CPJ says on its website.

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ls/gsw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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