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Director-General condemns violence against journalists in conflict in Georgia and urges respect for media safety

18-08-2008 (Paris)
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, condemned the killing of journalists in the conflict that took place in Georgia, and recalled the obligation under international law to respect the civilian status of reporters.
Mr Matsuura also joined United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his call for “safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors to all conflict-affected areas.”

In his statement, Mr Matsuura referred to the killing of Dutch cameraman Stan Storimans, of RTL television; Alexander Klimchuk, a Georgian photojournalist working for Russian news agency Itar-Tass; and of Grigol Chikhladze, also Georgian, of Russian Newsweek. There have also been reports of the killing of an unnamed Georgian journalist and his driver.

“I condemn the killing of Stan Storimans, Alexander Klimchuk and Grigol Chikhladze,” the Director-General said. “I am also deeply concerned about reports concerning other journalists who were injured in the recent conflict. In such times, it is essential that the authorities abide by international law which affirms the civilian status of war reporters. I call on the authorities to investigate these cases and take appropriate action,” Mr Matsuura said.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reported that Stan Storimans was killed on 11 August in Gori, where, it reported, an unnamed Georgian journalist was killed the following day along with his driver.

Alexander Klimchuk and Grigol Chikhladze were also killed while covering the conflict in South Ossetia, according to the Committee for the protection of journalists, which said that two other journalists travelling in the same car as the deceased were injured in the attack.

The IFJ further quoted the editor-in-chief of Expert Magazine, V.A. Fadeev, as saying that staff member Vyacheslav V. Kochetkov and Igor V. Naidenov, a reporter for the Russian Reporter magazine, had not been heard from since they crossed the border into Georgia on 9 August.

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

      · Georgia
      · Press Freedom
      · UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists
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