14.08.2007 -

Director-General condemns attacks on the press in Somalia

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today voiced his concern about the growing violence against journalists in Somalia in response to attacks that left two people dead and one injured on 11 August. Mr Matsuura condemned the killing of the Managing Director of HornAfrik Radio, Ali Iman Sharmarke, and of Radio Capital Voice Director, Mahad Ahmed Elmi, in a separate attack earlier that day.

"I condemn the killing of Ali Iman Sharmarke and of Mahad Ahmed Elmi," the Director-General said. "I also wish a speedy and complete recovery to Reuters News Agency Reporter Sahal Abdulle. The growing violence against journalists in Somalia is a source of grave concern. Journalists and media workers provide a service that is essential for any democratic society, a service that becomes all the more vital in societies that are trying to find their way out of strife. Journalists play an indispensable role in enabling citizens to hold open debate and make informed decisions. There can be no acceptable political or religious reason for attacking the men and women who make possible the fundamental human right of freedom of expression," Mr Matsuura concluded.


Unknown assailants used a remote control device to detonate the mine that killed Mr Sharmarke and injured Mr Abulle as they were travelling in the same vehicle returning from the funeral of Mr Elmi in Mogadishu. Mr Elmi had been shot by an unknown assailant earlier in the day.


According to the National Union of Somali Journalists, Ali Iman is the sixth media person killed so far this year in Somalia and Sahal Abdulle is the fourth journalist to be injured in the country since January.


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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