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Director-General condemns the assassination of Colombian radio commentator Atilano Segundo Pérez Barrios

01-09-2006 (Paris)
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the assassination of Colombian radio commentator Atilano Segundo Pérez Barrios in the city of Cartagena on 22 August.
“I condemn the assassination of Atilano Segundo Pérez Barrios,” said the Director-General. “I am deeply concerned about reports indicating the return of violence against journalists in Colombia where the working conditions of media professionals recently seemed to improve after years of unacceptable brutality.

“I trust,” Mr Matsuura added, “that the authorities will do all they can to bring the culprits of this crime to justice and ensure the ability of journalists to carry out their duties and exercise the basic human right of freedom of expression, serving Colombia’s democracy and rule of law.”

Mr Pérez Barrios, who had a one-hour programme on Radio Vigía de Todelar, was shot by an unidentified assailant in his apartment. In his programme, he often denounced corruption and paramilitary influence in his home town of Marialabaja, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports.

According to the CPJ, Mr Pérez Barrios is the third journalist to be assassinated in Colombia since March 2006. All three were radio journalists. The CPJ says that five other Colombian journalists have had to flee their homes because of threats and intimidation this year alone.

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…”
Related themes/countries

      · Colombia
      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2006
      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2006
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