18.09.2008 -

Director-General voices concern over the safety of journalists in the Caucasus

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today once again voiced concern over the safety of journalists in the Caucasus.

"I am deeply shocked," the Director-General said, "about the all too numerous reports of violent attacks against journalists in the Caucasus. I call on all authorities in the region to do everything they can to improve the safety of media workers."


The Director-General expressed his concern in reaction to the reports concerning the assassination of Abdullah Alishaev, journalist from the Republic of Dagestan, and the death of Magomed Yevloyev, the owner of an independent news website in the Republic of Ingushetia, both republics of the Russian Federation. "The killings of journalists are crimes against society as a whole", the Director-General said, "as they deal a blow to freedom of expression and access to independent information for the people of the region. I trust that the investigation launched by the authorities will allow the culprits to be brought to justice."


Abdullah Alishaev died on 3 September from wounds sustained when he was shot by unknown assailants the previous evening in Dagestan's provincial capital, Makhachkala. Abdullah Alishaev reported on religious affairs for the local television station TV-Chirkei.


Magomet Yevloev died after he was detained by the police upon his return to the Republic of Ingushetia from a visit to Moscow on 31 August. Police brought him to hospital where he died from gunshot wounds to the head. Mr Yevloev was a former editor in chief of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ingushetiya.ru">www.ingushetiya.ru</a> which he founded.


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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