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Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Ali Khalil

25-05-2007 (Paris)
Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Ali Khalil
Stop killing journalists
© Derstandard
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the killing in Baghdad of Ali Khalil, a journalist for the daily newspaper al-Zaman, and the abduction of another Iraqi print journalist Salam Duhi al-Sudani, who has been missing since 9 May.
"I condemn the murder of Ali Khalil, and the abduction of Salam Duhi al-Sudani," the Director-General said. "The killing of Iraqi journalists must be stopped. We can but admire the courage and steadfastness of these dedicated professionals in carrying out work that is essential for informed debate, the very premise of democracy and rule of law. At the same time, I can but be appalled by the heavy toll these Iraqi women and men have been paying for exercising the basic human right of freedom of expression."

Police found the body of 22-year-old Ali Khalil on 20 May, one hour after he had been abducted by armed men after he had left the house of a relative in the south of Baghdad. Reporters Without Borders links the killing to the recent publication of articles in which Mr Khalil quoted members of parliament as calling for the physical elimination of members of armed groups.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders said there was no news of Salam Duhi al-Sudani, a journalist in his 50s, who went missing in Baghdad on 9 May. Mr al-Sudani had worked for the al-Zaoura daily which recently closed for financial reasons.

"At least 177 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003," according to Reporter without Borders, who add that "two are missing and 13 are currently being held hostage."

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

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