Director-General condemns killing of italian journalist Enzo Baldoni in IraqUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the assassination in Iraq of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni and voiced outrage at the increasing targeting of media professionals in the country.
“I am outraged by the killing of Mr Baldoni and of his interpreter”, the Director-General declared today. “I condemn this flagrant disregard for civilian lives and for the most fundamental human values. The cold-blooded sacrifice of journalists who are committed to their professional duty to inform the public in difficult conditions, and of their co-workers, shows indescribable cynicism. I can only hope that the public everywhere will become conscious of the fact that the perpetrators of such acts can in no way be relied on to contribute to the construction of a democracy founded on rule of law and respect for human rights,” the Director-General said.
According to the International News Safety Institute (INSI), 51 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq in the past 17 months, making the conflict one of the bloodiest for the profession.
“I wish to pay tribute to the courage and dedication of Iraqi and international journalists and their collaborators,” Mr Matsuura said, commenting these figures. “It is encouraging to see that the profession’s commitment remains unflagging despite the heavy death toll. The free flow of information is essential for democracy and I call for every possible measure to be taken to enable journalists to continue carrying out their work in conditions of improved safety.”
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…”.