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Director-General condemns murder and kidnapping of journalists in Iraq

31-10-2007 (Paris)
Director-General condemns murder and kidnapping of journalists in Iraq
Stop killing journalists
© Derstandard
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, condemned the murder of Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti, editor of a new Iraqi weekly, al-Youm, on 28 October. He also condemned the murder of the unnamed chauffeur of a female correspondent of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty whose body was found in Iraq on 22 October. The correspondent has been missing since that date.
The assassinated driver and the kidnapped journalist have not been named, to protect the safety of the journalist.

“I condemn the killing of Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti and of the driver of the correspondent of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,” the Director-General declared. “I am also deeply concerned about the fate of the correspondent. Harassing, intimidating, kidnapping and killing journalists and those brave enough to work with them in extremely dangerous environments represents an attack on the human rights of entire societies. The people of Iraq, like all of us, have a fundamental and inalienable right to inform one another about events and discuss them. Violence cannot be allowed to take the place of freedom of speech,” concluded Mr Matsuura.

Mr Al Hiti, 27, was last seen alive on 28 October when he left his house to go to the office of al-Youm, which was launched earlier this month. His dead body was found later on that day in the Ur neighbourhood of Baghdad. He is the 122nd journalist killed in Iraq since March 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The CPJ also reports that 42 media support staff have been killed in the country since the start of the war, including the driver of the correspondent of the Arab-language service of the US-funded radio station.

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
      · UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists: News Archives 2007
      · Iraq: News Archives 2007
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  • UNESCO Press Release No.2007-139

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