United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Director-General condemns murder of Colombian journalist Oscar Alberto Polanco Herrera

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the assassination of the journalist Oscar Alberto Polanco Herrera in the city of Cartago, in Valle del Cauca, in Colombia.

“I condemn the murder of Mr Polanco. It is unacceptable and must be punished,” the Director-General said. “In keeping with the resolution adopted by UNESCO’s Member States in 1997 calling for action to prosecute and punish crimes against journalists, it is essential that the authorities investigate this heinous crime,” he added.

“Mr Polanco”, the Director-General said, “broadcast a daily news programme that was critical of authority on the local Canal Noticias Cartago television channel. The freedom to be critical is a fundamental human right recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“Democracy cannot be considered to be securely established while those who use the gun to curtail freedom of expression enjoy impunity for their crimes and I welcome moves by the authorities to collect information on this case”, the Director-General said.

“The authorities efforts are appreciated as Colombia remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists,” Mr Matsuura concluded. According professional organizations five journalists were killed in the country in 2003, nearly 60 were kidnapped, threatened or assaulted, and more than 20 were forced to leave their region, in some cases the country.

Source Press Release No 2004 - 10
Publication Date 10 Feb 2004
© UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 18470