Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi television journalist Raeda Mohammed Wageh WazzanKoïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the murder in Iraq of Raeda Mohammed Wageh Wazzan, a journalist at the regional public television station Iraqiya, voicing outrage at a crime against an innocent person and an unacceptable attack on the basic human right of freedom of expression.
“I cannot find words strong enough to condemn the cold-blooded murder of Raeda Mohammed Wageh Wazzan,” the Director-General declared. “I have great admiration for the courage of media professionals working in Iraq; they are committed professionals who take enormous personal risks to provide the Iraqi public with information they need to exercise their democratic rights and duties.”
“Ms Wazzan proved, through her commitment to her profession, as her colleagues continue to do, that the campaign waged by terrorists in Iraq to silence the media is failing,” the Director-General added. “The terrorists’ campaign of intimidation, violence and murder can only be qualified as a succession of gratuitous crimes against innocent persons and against the basic human right of freedom of expression, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Ms Wazzan was found dead on February 25, five days after she and her son were kidnapped in the city of Mosul. Her son was released after three days. According to the non-governmental organization Reporters without Borders, Ms Wazzan was the 21st journalist to be kidnapped in Iraq since March 2003. She is the second to have been murdered by her abductors, after Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, who was assassinated in August 2004. Her death brings to 33 the number of journalists killed in Iraq since March 2003.
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…”