Deeply concerned by the death of Lebanese journalist Assaf Abu Rahal, UNESCO Director-General calls for restraint
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, expressed her deep concern and called for restraint after the death of Lebanese journalist Assaf Abu Rahal, who worked for the daily Al-Akhbar, published in Beirut. He died in a clash at the border between Lebanon and Israel on 3 August that killed four people and injured two, including another journalist.
"I am deeply concerned about the circumstances in which Assaf Abu Rahal was killed and his colleague Ali Shoaib injured. I call on all parties involved to make every effort to shed light on the causes of this tragic incident, and to make sure it does not happen again by showing more restraint," she declared. "I would further underline that freedom of expression, a fundamental human right, implies the possibility of exercising this right in safety. Armed forces are obligated to respect it."
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Assaf Abu Rahal, 55, had been covering southern Lebanon for Al-Akhbar for four years. He and his colleague Ali Shoaib were at a Lebanese army roadblock, said Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Three soldiers, one Israeli and two Lebanese, were also killed in the clash.
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this purpose the Organization is required to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image..."