Director-General condemns murder of Ecuadorian journalists, José Luis León Desiderio and Saúl Suárez SandovalThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the assassination of radio journalist José Luis León Desiderio and freelance photographer Saúl Suárez Sandoval, both shot dead in the city of Guayaquil in southwestern Ecuador on 13 and 14 February respectively.
“I condemn the murders of José Luis León Desiderio and Saúl Suárez Sandoval,” the Director-General declared. “Such crimes are not only an offence against individuals, but an attack on society as a whole. Freedom of expression is recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a basic human right and its corollary, freedom of the press, is essential for democracy and rule of law. I am appalled by the repetition of two such heinous crimes in 24 hours, and I trust that the authorities will spare no effort in bringing the culprits to justice,” Mr Matsuura concluded.
José Luis León Desiderio, a presenter on Radio Minutera, was shot dead near his home on the night of 13 to 14 February. According to Reporters Without Borders, he exposed the scale of criminality in Guayaquil in his radio programme.
Freelance photographer Saúl Suárez Sandoval, who contributed to the dailies La Hora Durandeña and La Prensa de Durán, was shot dead on 14 February 2006 in Durán, a suburb of Guayaquil.
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…”