UNESCO Director-General gravely concerned by death of Indian journalist Hem Chandra Pandey
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, expressed her grave concern regarding the circumstances of the death of freelance journalist Hem Chandra Pandey, killed by gunfire in a clash in early July while reporting on the Maoist insurgency in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
"I am concerned about the circumstances in which Hem Chandra Pandey lost his life and I call on authorities to investigate thoroughly the conditions in which it took place," said Ms Bokova. "I reiterate that press freedom is a fundamental human right. This implies that it can be exercised in complete safety, and the role of the police is to respect it."
Hem Chandra Pandey, aged 30, wrote under the name Hernant Pandey and worked for several Hindi-language newspapers, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Specialized in covering social issues, he had gone to Nagpur to interview a leader of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), Cherukuri Rajkumar, alias Azad, who was said to be attempting to negotiate a truce with the authorities, the IFJ reports.
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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