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UNESCO Director-General condemns killing of Canadian journalist and kidnapping of two French television journalists in Afghanistan

07-01-2010 (Paris)
UNESCO Director-General condemns killing of Canadian journalist and kidnapping of two French television journalists in Afghanistan
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the killing of Canadian journalist Michelle Lang in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on 30 December 2009. She also reproved the abduction of two journalists working for the French TV station France 3 on 29 December in Kapisa province.
“I condemn the killing of Michelle Lang, who died doing her duty as a journalist,” said Ms Bokova. “Violence against journalists constitutes an attack on the fundamental human right of freedom of expression; it is therefore a direct threat to democracy. I also condemn the abduction of the two French television journalists, who are being held hostage because they too were doing their duty of gathering information. The fates of these three media professionals cruelly underline the dangers that journalists face when they go into areas of conflict to provide news coverage. I call on the Afghan authorities to do their utmost to obtain the release of the French journalists, and to take measures to increase press security in the country.”

Ms Lang, 34, worked for the Calgary Herald, but had been seconded to CanWest News Services. Travelling with four Canadian soldiers, she was killed when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. She had been in Afghanistan for just two and a half weeks. The two French journalists – a reporter and a cameraman – and their Afghan crew were working for the France 3 current affairs programme Pièces à conviction. There has been no word from them since they were intercepted by gunmen on a road near Omarkhil, northeast of Kabul.

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

      · Afghanistan
      · Canada
      · France
      · Press Freedom
      · UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists
      · Media in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations
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Contact information

  • UNESCO Press Release No. 2010-02

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