Director-General condemns murder of Philippines journalist George BenaojanThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of Philippines journalist George Banaojan in Talisay, on the Philippines island of Cebu, on 1 December. He also expressed his deep concern over the violence to which journalists are exposed in the country.
“I condemn the murder of George Benaojan,” the Director-General declared. “This is yet another attack on freedom of the press, and therefore on democracy and rule of law. Violence against the profession,” Mr Matsuura added, “has reached alarming proportions in the Philippines and I wish, once again, to pay tribute to the courage of journalists who continue exercising their profession in a particularly violent environment, despite the threats they receive.”
George Benaojan, 27, worked both for radio Bantay Radyo sa Cebu and for the written press. He was shot while talking to a colleague at the market of Talisay, in Cebu. According to police, Mr Benaojan had received death threats. One year ago he escaped an attempt to murder him and two colleagues.
According to the National Union of Jounralists of the Philipppines (NUJP), George Benaojan is the tenth journalist to have been killed in the country this year and the 73rd since the return of democracy in 1986.
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…”