Director-General welcomes release of French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges MalbrunotThe Director-General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura today welcomed the release of French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot 124 days after they were taken hostage on the road from Baghdad to Najaf.
“I welcome the release of Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot,” the Director-General declared. “I rejoice both for them and for their families and hope that this happy event is the harbinger of improved conditions for media professionals in Iraq, all too many of whom have paid with their life for the right to exercise their profession in this country.”
According to the International News Safety Institute (INSI) more than 60 news media personnel - journalists and support staff such as drivers and translators - have died covering the events in Iraq.
Mr Matsuura went on to declare: “Free and independent media play an important role in the working of democracy and, in view of the forthcoming elections, it is essential that journalists, from Iraq and elsewhere, be able to work safely in the country.”
Christian Chesnot was working in Iraq as a freelance journalist for Radio France and Radio France International while Georges Mabrunot was there for the French newspapers Le Figaro and Ouest-France. They were captured by the Islamic Army in Iraq on August 20.
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…”