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Communication and Information Sector's news service

Director-General condemns violence and intimidation of journalists in Libya

16-03-2011 (Paris)
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder of Ali Hassan Al-Jaber, a cameraman for the Al Jazeera television network, who was killed in an ambush on the outskirts of the rebel-held city of Benghazi in eastern Libya on Saturday, 12 March.
“The death of Ali Hassan Al-Jaber takes the violence and intimidation against journalists in Libya to a new extreme and highlights the risks taken by the media in trying to do its job,” Irina Bokova said. “All those exercising authority in Libya must realize that such acts will not make the problems go away. Peace and development hinge on meeting the aspirations of the Libyan people, not on repression of freedom of speech and of the public right to receive information.”

According to Al Jazeera and Reporters Without Borders, an NGO, Ali Hassan Al-Jaber was killed and another passenger injured when unidentified gunman opened fire on his car. He had been returning to Benghazi after covering a story in a neighbouring city.

The ambush is the latest in a series of violent attacks, beatings and arrests of journalists in Libya.

Among recent reports: Andrei Netto, a reporter for Brazil’s O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper was arrested on 9 March; Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who works for the London-based Guardian newspaper was reported missing; three BBC journalists were arrested and beaten; and unidentified assailants threw an explosive device on the Ouzo Hotel where foreign journalists are based in Benghazi on 8 March.

The authorities have also been jamming the signal of foreign media and inciting violence against journalists.

UNESCO is the 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

      · Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
      · Press Freedom
      · UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists
      · Media in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations
      · Weekly newsletter
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