United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Director-General condemns the murder of Iraqi television journalist Ali Jaafar

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of Iraqi television journalist Ali Jaafar in Baghdad on 31 May.

“I condemn the murder of Ali Jafaar,” the Director-General declared. “The Iraqi media have been paying an unacceptable toll for the basic human right of freedom of expression. Enemies of reconstruction and rule of law in Iraq, are waging a campaign of violence against media workers of all categories, demonstrating that they too understand the essential role that a vibrant media environment plays in the establishment of participatory democracy. I hope that the authorities will be able to stop this wave of assassinations which is as tragic as it is senseless.”

Mr Jaafar, 24, a well-known sports correspondent and anchor with Iraq’s state television channel Al-Iraqiya, was shot by unidentified gunmen as he opened up the motorcar shop of his recently deceased brother in southwest Baghdad. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Mr Jaafar’s colleagues believe he was killed because he worked for Al-Iraqiya.

Al-Iraqiya and its staff have been suffered numerous attacks and the CPJ reports that at least 16 other employees of the station and its affiliates have been killed since 2004. Seventy-three journalists and 26 media support workers have been killed since March 20, according to the media organization.

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…”

Source Press Release N°2006-57
Publication Date 07 Jun 2006
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