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Director-General condemns killing of two Iraqi journalists: Wissam Ali Ouda and Haidar Hashem Al-Husseini

06-06-2008 (Paris)
Director-General condemns killing of two Iraqi journalists: Wissam Ali Ouda and Haidar Hashem Al-Husseini
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the killing of two Iraqi journalists, Wissam Ali Ouda and Haidar Hashem Al-Husseini, in separate incidents in Baghdad and in Diyala and urged efforts to improve the safety of media professionals in the country.
“I condemn the killing of Wissam Ali Ouda and Haidar Hashem Al-Husseini,” the Director-General said today. Journalists in Iraq have been paying an unacceptable toll for their right to practice their profession and for the right of Iraqis and foreigners alike to receive independent information. Freedom of expression and the public’s right to know are essential for democracy and I urge the Iraqi government to step up measures to improve the safety of media workers.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, these two cases bring to seven the number of journalists killed in Iraq since the start of the year and to 215 the overall media death toll since the start of the war in March 2003.

Mr Ouda, a 32-year-old cameraman with Afaq TV, was shot by a sniper on 21 May as he was returning to his home in Al-Obeidi, a Baghdad district where there have been clashes between U.S. soldiers and Shiite militiamen. Witnesses suggest he could have been mistaken him for a militiaman. Afaq TV is affiliated to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s Shiite party Al-Dawa.

The body of Mr Al-Husseini, 36, a reporter for the independent daily Al-Sharq, was found on 21 May in a common grave near Baquba, 60 km northeast of Baghdad. He had been kidnapped a day earlier and was then shot dead.

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

      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2008
      · UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists: News Archives 2008
      · Iraq: News Archives 2008
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