UNESCO Director-General calls for release of Italian journalist Giuliana SgrenaUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has called for the release of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped on February 4 in Baghdad where she was working for the daily newspaper Il Manifesto.
"Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped while exercising her profession, despite the risks that everyone is aware of. Once again I must stress that in Iraq, as elsewhere, democracy cannot flourish without press freedom, and without freedom of movement for journalists,” Mr Matsuura declared.
The Director-General added: "Giuliana Sgrena, along with French journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, who have been missing since January 5, must be freed. Journalists must not be treated as targets. They are civilians carrying out a task recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - which places freedom of expression among the fundamental human rights.”
Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 in the centre of Baghdad by a group of armed men. She was investigating the plight of refugees from Fallujah, living in a mosque within the walls of Baghdad University.
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…”