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Director-General condemns killing of Iraqi journalists Mohan al-Zaher and Jamal al-Zubaidi

09-03-2007 (Paris)
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, condemned the killing of two Iraqi journalists, Mohan al-Zaher and Jamal al-Zubaidi and voiced alarm at the violence directed at Iraqi journalists.
"I condemn the murder of Mohan al-Zaher and Jamal al-Zubaidi," the Director-General said. "These killings must be stopped to secure the reconstruction of a democratic Iraq. There can be no democracy and rule of law without open democratic debate, which depends on the ability of journalists to carry out their professional obligation without fearing for their lives. I am alarmed by the unbearable toll journalists are having to pay for their basic human right of freedom of expression," Mr Matsuura concluded.

Mohan al-Zaher, the managing editor of the independent daily newspaper al-Mashreq, was killed near his home in Baghdad on Sunday during a failed kidnapping attempt, according to the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate (IJS). His murder followed the discovery on Saturday of the body of Iraqi journalist Jamal al-Zubaidi, the managing editor of Baghdad newspaper al-Safir, who had disappeared a week earlier.

At least 13 other journalists and media staff have been killed since the beginning of January, according to the International Federation of Journalists, which says that at least 69 journalists and media workers were killed in Iraq in 2006. At least 186 media workers have died in the country since the start of the conflict in 2003, according to the international NGO.

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…”
Related themes/countries

      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2007
      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2007
      · Iraq: News Archives 2007
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