Director-General condemns killing of Somali radio journalists Abshir Ali Gabre and Ahmed Hassan Mahad
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the killing of two Somali radio journalists Abshir Ali Gabre and Ahmed Hassan Mahad in Middle Shabelle province on 16 May and called for improved safety of journalists in the country.
"I condemn the killing of Abshir Ali Gabre and Ahmed Hassan Mahad," the Director-General said. "I call on all responsible Somalis in a position of authority, to be mindful of the safety of journalists whose professional activity is essential for dialogue and conflict resolution. Journalists must be able to exercise their profession safely, in view of the fact that press freedom is an extension of the basic human right of freedom of expression and a pillar of democracy and good governance."
Abshir Ali Gabre and Ahmed Hassan Mahad - respectively a news editor and reporter for Radio Jowhar, a private station in Jowhar, 90 km north of the capital Mogadishu - were killed when gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of Mohammed Omar Deele, governor of the Middle Shabelle province. At least six people are reported to have been killed in the ensuing gun battle.
The Committee for the Protection of Jounalists (CPJ) reports that Gabre and Mahad are the 16th and 17th journalists killed on duty in Somalia since 1992. The CPJ ranks Somalia as the world's 12th most dangerous country for the press.
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..."