31.08.2009 -

Director-General condemns murder of Afghan journalist Janullah Hashimzada

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura condemned on 28 August the killing of Afghan journalist Janullah Hashimzada, who was shot dead on 24 August in Pakistan's Khyber Pass.

"I condemn the murder of Janullah Hashimzada," declared the Director-General. "This killing highlights the vulnerability of journalists working in conflict and post conflict areas where they fulfil an essential role in providing us with independent information. Peace, democracy and rule of law depend on, and require, open and informed debate, which is also essential for reconciliation and reconstruction. I trust that the authorities will investigate this murder and take all necessary steps to improve the safety of journalists in this part of the country as they have been made to pay an extremely heavy price for exercising their profession."


Janullah Hashimzada, 37, was known to be critical of insurgents operating under the banner of the Taliban. He was said to have upset key players in the region and is reported to have told colleagues that he had been receiving threats and was being followed.


Janullah Hashimzada was Bureau Chief in Peshawar, Pakistan, for Afghanistan's Shamshad Television. He also freelanced for the Pajhwok Afghan News and Associated Press (AP) news agencies, as well as for the Wahdat and Sahar Pashto-language newspapers, and Al-Arabia TV.


Ali Khan, an employee of Shamshad Television, was also seriously injured in the attack that killed Janullah Hashimzada. According to the International Press Institute 11 journalists have been killed in Pakistan over the last two years, six of them in the northwestern part of the country.

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..."

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