18.07.2005 -

Director-General condemns killing of journalist Jacques Roche

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of Haitian journalist Jacques Roche, whose body was found July 14 in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Mr Roche, cultural editor with the daily Le Matin, was reported kidnapped on July 10.

"I condemn the abduction and murder of Jacques Roche," Mr Matsuura said. "He is a victim of the violence that continues to plague the Haitian capital. His murder was not directly linked to his professional activities, but the press is one of the sectors most at risk in this climate of terror. Journalists in Haiti have been threatened and attacked, and are forced to limit their movements due to the pervasive lawlessness. A free and independent press, which is an essential component of a democratic society, cannot exist in such conditions. I trust that the government of Haiti will play its part in restoring order and the rule of law."


Jacques Roche, who also hosted a television show, was taken from his car in the Port-au-Prince neighbourhood of Nazon. His captors demanded a ransom of US$250,000. According to press reports, abductions are a daily occurrence in the capital, and more than 700 people have been killed during unrest over the last ten months.


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..."


(UNESCO Press Release No 2005-89)

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