Director-General condemns assassination of Iraqi journalists Najem Abed Khodair and Ahmad AdamThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the killing of Iraqi journalists Najem Abed Khodair and Ahmad Adam and voiced outrage at the brutality of attacks on media professionals in the country.
“I condemn the bloody assassination of Najem Abed Khodair and Ahmad Adam and I am outraged by their brutality,” the Director-General declared. “Whatever the convictions of the perpetrators of these crimes, there can be no moral or ethical justification for their acts. The media play an essential role in empowering people to make informed choices and rebuild their country. Those who are carrying out these attacks on brave professionals committed to carrying out their duty cannot claim to be working for the people of Iraq.”
“I welcome news that the Iraqi army was able to arrest suspects in connection with the killing,” Mr Matsuura added. “I hope that the culprits are brought to trial and punished. This will be an important step towards ending the attacks against media professionals in Iraq, which have reached an intolerable level.”
Najem Abed Khodair, of the independent daily newspapers Al-Madaa and Tariq al-Shaab, and Ahmad Adam, a poet and writer who contributed to Al-Madaa and Sabah newspapers, had their throats slit on May 15 as they were travelling by road to their home town of Kerbala, south of Baghdad. According to the Iraqi army, nine armed med suspected of carrying out the murders have been arrested.
The non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders says that the Iraqi conflict has become the deadliest for journalists since the Vietnam War, with 56 reporters and media staff killed and 29 kidnapped since fighting began in March 2003. Eleven journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq this year alone, according to the NGO.
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…”