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UNESCO Director-General condemns murder of Congolese journalist Serge Maheshe

19-06-2007 (Paris)
UNESCO Director-General condemns murder of Congolese journalist Serge Maheshe
Stop killing journalists
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Serge Maheshe was killed in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 13 June.
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of radio journalist Serge Maheshe, who was shot dead in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 13 June, and called on the Congolese authorities to do everything possible to ensure that the crime does not go unpunished.

“I condemn the murder of Serge Maheshe,” the Director-General said. “A famous voice in the DRC has been silenced. In Ituri, Goma, Kisangani, Kinshasa and Bukavu, Serge Maheshe covered the news from the conflict zone and often in tense situations. He was a journalist known for his rigour who used information to serve peace and the rule of law and to seek an end to instability. For his courage and his commitment to democracy, he paid with his life. It is essential that media professionals, the true pillars of democracy, are protected and that the crimes committed against them do not go unpunished. I hope the Congolese authorities will do everything they can to find and punish those responsible for this murder.”

Serge Maheshe, aged 31, worked since 2002 for Radio Okapi, the most popular radio station in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With a reputation for integrity and professionalism, he was one of the main media personalities in the Bukavu region. Radio Okapi is a joint project with the Swiss Hirondelle Foundation and the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).

He was killed on the night of 13 June as he was leaving the house of a friend in Bukavu. Unknown attackers armed with Kalashnikovs were waiting for him near his car, which was marked with the United Nations insignia, and established his identity before killing him in cold blood.

Serge Maheshe was the third Congolese journalist to be murdered since November 2005. Bapuwa Mwamba, from daily newspaper Le Phare, was killed at his home by three armed men in July 2006. Franck Kangundu, a journalist for La Référence Plus, was killed with his wife in November 2005.

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

      · Congo (Democratic Republic): News Archive
      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2007
      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2007
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  • UNESCO Press release N°2007-64

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