Director-General condemns killing of Iraqi television reporter Rafed Al Rubaii
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the shooting by unknown gunmen of Iraqi television reporter Rafed Al Rubaii as he was covering a demonstration in Diyala, east of Baghdad on August 27.
The Director-General reiterated his call for measures to be taken to improve the safety of journalists in Iraq.
"I condemn the killing of Rafed Al Rubaii," the Director-General said. "Mr Al Rubaii, like all too many journalists in Iraq, has paid with his life for the indomitable determination of media professionals to continue informing the public at home and abroad about events in his country. The price paid by the profession to carry out their work, which is indispensable for democracy and rule of law, is unacceptably high. I can but pay tribute to their courage and exhort, once again, all those in position of authority in Iraq to spare no means in seeking to improve the working conditions of media workers in the country."
Mr Al Rubaii, was a freelance contributor to the television station Al Irakiya, and is the 67th journalist killed in the country since the start of the war in March 2003, according to non-governmental organization Reporters without Borders. Two other journalists are still missing in Iraq according to the NGO. They are: ITV News cameraman Frédéric Nérac, missing since March 22, 2003, and Suedostmedia cameraman Isam Hadi Muhsin Al-Shumary, missing since August 15, 2004.
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..."
(UNESCO Press Release No.2005-100)
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