Director-General condemns murder of Philippines journalist Stephen Omais and voices alarm at escalating violence against the mediaUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder and torture of Philippines reporter Stephen Omais and voiced alarm at escalating violence against journalists in the Philippines.
“I condemn the assassination of Stephen Omais,” the Director-General declared. “The murderers of Mr Omais, whose body was found in a garbage bin, appear to be bent on meting out the same treatment to democracy and rule of law.”
“Violence against journalists in the Philippines has recently escalated and is reaching a truly alarming level. To protect democracy and rule of law, adequate measures must be taken to bring the criminals responsible for these barbarous acts of violence to trial.”
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), reports that 23 year-old Stephen Omais was found dead in a garbage bin with torture marks on his body in Tabuk Town (Kalinga Province, northern Philippines).
Mr Onais, who was a staff writer for of the bimonthly community paper Guru Press, is believed to have been killed on November 26, after the entire paper received death threats in relation to a story about a public works project, according to the IFJ.
Mr Onais is the second journalist to have been killed in just one week in the Philippines and, according to professional organizations, the 46th to have been assassinated since the establishment of democracy in the country in 1986. They denounce the fact that not one successful prosecution has been made in connection with these murders.
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…”.