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Director-General Condemns Murder of Philippines Journalists Gene Boyd Lumawag and Herson Hinolan Voicing Alarm at Increase in Casualities

23-11-2004 (Paris)
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the shooting in the Philippines of Gene Boyd Lumawag, a photographer with the MindaNews news service on November 12 and of Herson Hinolan, manager and commentator of Bombo Radiyo radio station the next day. He also voiced concern over the lack of safety in which journalists carry out their work in many parts of the world.
“I condemn the murder of Gene Boyd Lumawag and Herson Hinolan, both of whom were targeted for carrying out their professional duties. I am, and have long been concerned by the heavy tribute paid by the media in the Philippines. In view of the essential role the media play in a democratic society, attacks on journalists must be treated as attacks on society and on rule of law.”

Mr Lumawag was shot dead in Jolo, capital of the southern Sulu Province, where he had gone to work on a video documentary about transparency and local government practices. Mr Hinolan, who was known as a hard-hitting commentator, was shot in Kalibo in the central Panay Island and died of his injuries two days later.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, six other journalists have been killed in the line of duty in the Philippines so far this year and a total of 47 journalists have been murdered in the country since the establishment of democracy there in 1986.

Mr Matsuura went on to voice concern about the lack of safety in which members of the profession have to work in many parts of the world, naming the tragic deaths of Antoine Massé, a correspondent for the private daily Le Courrier d'Abidjan, who was fatally shot November 7, and of Nicaraguan journalist Maria José Bravo, a correspondent of La Prensa daily, who was shot and killed in the north-eastern city of Juigalpa on November 9.

Mr Massé was killed while covering a violent demonstration in the western Ivoirian town of Duékoué in which several people died. Ms Bravo was shot in a fight between rival political factions as she was covering elections in the north-eastern city of Juigalpa.

“The killing of Antoine Massé in Côte d’Ivoire and of Maria José Bravo in Nicaragua bears testimony to the dedication of media professionals worldwide whose courage leads them to disregard danger in seeking to collect information and report first-hand about events in the places they cover. Their work is of capital importance to all of us and it is essential that they be able to carry out their duty in reasonable conditions of safety,” the Director-General declared.

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.

(Source: UNESCO Press Release No.2004-109)
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