Director-General expresses concern at the death of Indian journalist Ashok Sodhi
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today expressed concern at the death of Indian photojournalist Ashok Sodhi who was shot and killed while covering an armed incident in Kashmir on 11 May.
"I deplore the death of Ashok Sodhi," the Director-General said. "The safety of journalists is a subject of paramount concern in any democracy. It is essential that reporters be able to do their work and inform the public, even in areas of conflict. Their status as civilians must be respected," Mr Matsuura concluded.
Mr Sodhi died of bullet injuries received while reporting on an incident in Samba district, 45 kilometres south of Jammu. A reporter of 25 years' standing, Mr Sodhi worked for the Daily Excelsior, a leading newspaper in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
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..."