Director-General condemns assassination of Croatian media executives Ivo Pukanic and Niko Franjic
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the killing of Ivo Pukanic, journalist and owner of the NCL Media Group, and Niko Franjic, marketing director of the weekly newspaper Nacional, in a car bomb attack in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, on 23 October.
"I condemn the killing of Ivo Pukanic and Niko Franjic," declared the Director-General. "Such crimes against the press constitute an attack on the basic human right of freedom of expression and are doubly reprehensible for their adverse effect on society as a whole." Mr Matsuura added: "I understand that the Croatian authorities have undertaken to work on this case, which is a heartening development, and trust they will be able to end the alarming acts of violence against the media in the country."
Ivo Pukanic - co-founder of the weekly Nacional and 1999 Journalist of the Year, is reported to have been the object of repeated threats in recent years. The journalist had received several awards, notably for his investigative reporting, and built a media company with several regular publications. In 2007, the NCL Group opened a Journalism School.
The bomb that killed the owner of NCL and the marketing director of the Group's Nacional weekly, is said to have been placed under the publisher's car and to have been detonated with a remote control device.
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..."