Director-General condemns assassination of Iraqi TV journalist Dina Mohammed Hassan and news photographer Karam HusseinUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura condemned the murder of Dina Mohammed Hassan, a correspondent for Al-Hurriya TV, in Baghdad on Thursday October 14, and of the European Pressphoto Agency photographer Karam Hussein in Mosul on Friday. Mr Matsuura also voiced concern over the intolerable death-toll of media professionals in Iraq.
“I cannot find words strong enough to condemn the deliberate killing of Dina Mohammed Hassan and of Karam Hussein,” Mr Matsuura said. “The sheer number of deaths endured by the journalistic profession in Iraq is intolerable, all the more so considering the essential role journalists have to play in the reconstruction of the country as a pluralistic democracy.”
The Director-General stressed that “dialogue and open debate, two fundamental characteristics of democracy, cannot thrive without free and independent media. The cowardly actions of those resorting to murder to deter the professionals who feed such debate must be stopped.”
Both journalists were gunned down by unidentified assailants as they were leaving their homes: Ms Hassan in the Adhamiya district of Baghdad and Mr Hussein in Mosul.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ms Hassan received unspecified threats to stop working for Al-Hurriya, which is backed by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. She is also said to have been warned to wear an Islamic headscarf. Before working for Pressphoto, Mr Karam contributed photographs to the Associated Press.
According to the International News Safety Institute (INSI), more than 50 journalists have been killed in Iraq over the past 18 months.
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…”