UNESCO Director-General condemns the murders of seven journalists and media workers in IraqUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the killings of several journalists in Iraq over the past few days, and reiterated his request for measures to ensure the security of media professionals in carrying out their duty to inform.
“The toll paid by the media in Iraq has become heavier still. Seven journalists or media workers have lost their lives in barely four days. I condemn these crimes targeting the press and aimed at instigating a climate of terror. Press freedom is indispensable for the reconstruction of an independent and democratic Iraq; there can be no press freedom without a minimum of security for journalists. Everything possible must be done to improve their security and ensure that media professionals can carry out their duty to inform,” Mr Matsuura declared.
Laith Mashaan, a journalist at Nahrein television, and Muazaz Ahmed, a technician at the same private channel, were kidnapped while returning home to Madaen, south-east of Baghdad.
Their bodies were found on the morning of 8 May.
In Basra, Abed Shaker al Demaimi, a photographer for al Jumhureyya, al Qadeseyya and occasionally for Reuters, was killed on 7 May by unidentified assailants.
The same day, a bomb attack near the offices of the Al-Sahah newspaper in Baghdad claimed the life of Mohammed Khamaf, who worked in the newspaper’s printshop.
On 5 May, the body of Saad Shammari, a presenter on Al-Iraqiyah television, was discovered and Saud M’Zahim Al-Hedaithi, who worked are Baghdadiyah TV, was killed.
The most recent in this series of assassinations was that of Ahmed Kadhem, a journalist from al Adaalah, who was found murdered on 10 May in the same area as Laith Mashaan and Muazaz Ahmed.
According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), 69 journalists and 25 media workers have been killed in Iraq since 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…”