27.01.2009 -

Director-General condemns killing of Venezuelan journalist Orel Sambrano

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, condemned the assassination of Venezuelan journalist Orel Sambrano who was killed on 16 January.

"I condemn the assassination of Orel Sambrano," declared the Director-General. "The deliberate targeting of journalists such as Orel Sambrano deals a serious blow to the basic human right of freedom of expression. It is also a blow to democracy and rule of law which depend on the ability of the members of any society to hold free debates about issues of general concern and make informed decisions."


Orel Sambrano, 62, was the editor of a weekly magazine ABC, in Valencia, in the north-central state of Carabobo. He was also the vice-president of the privately-owned Radio América 890 AM radio station and a columnist for the regional daily Notitarde.


Orel Sambrano had received death threats in connection with his reports on drug trafficking. He was shot dead in broad daylight as he got out of his car in the city of Valencia.


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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