27.01.2009 -

Director-General condemns murder of two Russian journalists and a human rights lawyer

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, condemned the killings of two Russian journalists Anastasia Baburova and Shafiq Amrakhov and of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov. The Director-General also called for an investigation into the separate incidents.

"I condemn the murder of Anastasia Baburova, Stanislas Markelov and Shafiq Amrakhov," declared the Director-General. "These killings represent a tragic blow to the basic human right of freedom of expression and to all other human rights, which are essential if good governance and rule of law are to be upheld. I trust that a full investigation will be conducted into these crimes," Mr Matsuura concluded.

Anastasia Baburova was shot dead on 19 January while talking to leading human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov outside a Moscow metro station. Stanislav Markelov, who had just given a press conference, is believed to have been the main target of the gunman who shot the two. Anastasia Baburova, worked for the Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper of investigative journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated in 2006 and awarded the UNESCO Press Freedom Prize in 2007.

Shafiq Amrakhov, owner and editor of the online regional news agency RIA 51, died in a hospital in Murmansk six days after he was shot in the head inside his apartment building. RIA 51 reports on politics and business in the region of Murmansk.

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..."




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