Director-General condemns murder of Mexican journalist Francisco Javier Ortiz FrancoUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco, co-editor of weekly Zeta, on June 22 in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
“I condemn the murder of Mr Ortiz Franco, the second journalist of Zeta to be killed in cold blood. Mr Ortiz Franco was one of the founders of Zeta, which won respect for its independence and the quality of its investigations, illustrating the essential contribution of free media to democracy.”
Mr Ortiz Franco’s killing is the third attack on a journalist of the Tijuana-based weekly in recent years. One of its founders, Héctor Félix Miranda was assassinated in April 1988 and the paper’s publisher, J. Jesús Blancornelas was injured in an attempted assassination in 1997 in which his bodyguard was killed.
Mr Blancornela received the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 1999 for his reporting on drug trafficking and corruption, which Mr Ortíz Franco also exposed in his journalism. Roberto Javier Mora García was killed in March this year after publishing articles on the same subject in the daily paper El Mañana (published in Nuevo Laredo, northeast Mexico) of which he was the editor. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), seven journalists were assassinated in Latin America in 2003, many of them in connection with investigations into drug trafficking and corruption.
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…”