Director-General condemns assassination of Brazilian radio host José Givonaldo Vieira
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the assassination of José Givonaldo Vieira, who was shot dead in Bezerros in the State of Pernambuco on 14 December.
“I condemn the killing of José Givonaldo Vieira,” declared the Director-General. “Attacks against the media and media professionals constitute a serious and unacceptable threat to democracy, which is based on the fundamental human right of freedom of expression. Democratic choices depend on open public debate, while the checks and balances provided by a free press bolster good governance. It is therefore essential that those responsible for this crime be brought to trial.”
José Givonaldo Vieira, who hosted a programme about social issues on Bezerros FM, a local radio station he owned, was shot dead in his car by unidentified gunmen in what looked like a contract killing, according to local media. Mr Vieira also owned the local newspaper Folha do Agreste and a music production company.
According to the Committee to Protect (CPJ) journalists, radio hosts and independent journalists are the most common murder victims in the remote northeast of Brazil. In 2009, the country was included for the first time in the CPJ’s list of countries where journalists are killed regularly and their murderers remain unpunished.
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…”