UNESCO Director-General condemns wave of journalist killings
"The wave of journalist killings we have seen in recent days is cause for deep concern and must stand condemned," said UNESCO Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, following the murders of four journalists between 5 and 8 September. The Director-General urged national authorities in the countries concerned to do everything within their power to bring the assassins to justice.
Irina Bokova condemned the murders of Afghan journalist Sayed Hamid Noori, Angolan journalist Alberto Graves Chakussanga, and Iraqi journalists Safaa al-Khayat and Riad al-Saray as grave violations of the basic human right of freedom of expression.
"The work of media professionals is vital for the fundamental right of freedom of expression," the Director-General said. "The defence of this right is all the more important in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq where conflict has wrought so much damage to the social fabric of the nation. I trust the authorities will do their utmost in each of the cases to investigate the crime and bring the culprits to justice."
Sayed Hamid Noori, a well-known former news anchor of Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), was stabbed to death on September 5 in Kabul. Noori, 45, had become spokesman for the speaker of the Afghan parliament after leaving RTA but continued to be a committed political journalist, according to the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Also on September 5, Angolan journalist Alberto Graves Chakussanga was shot dead at his home in Luanda's Viana district. Chakussanga had presented a weekly, Umbundu-language news call-in program on private Radio Despertar.
Prominent Iraqi television anchorman Riad al-Saray, was shot dead on 7 September in Baghdad. Mr Saray, 35, presented religious and political programmes for al-Iraqiya TV, the state broadcaster. Reporters without Borders (RSF) said Mr Saray is the 15th al-Iraqiya journalist to be killed since the end of Saddam Hussein's regime.
On September 8, Iraqi journalist Safaa al-Khayat was killed by gunmen in the northern city of Mosul. Media reports say that Safaa al-Khayat was shot dead as he was leaving his house to go to work at Al-Mosuliyah television, a privately-owned provincial station where he presented a religious programme entitled "Our Mosques".
The Director-General has condemned the killings of 36 journalists and media workers so far this year. According to the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, almost one in five of those who lost their lives was covering corruption, making that subject more dangerous than conflict.
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 the Organization is requested 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..."