Director-General deplores death of two media workers in Lebanon and urges improved safetyThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today deplored the death of two media workers in Lebanon, and urged both Israel and Hezbollah to respect the civilian status of journalists and media organizations.
“I deplore the death of TV technician Suleiman al-Chidiac, and of news photographer Layal Nagib” the Director-General said. “In times of violent conflict it is essential for all parties to respect the important role the media play in enabling the public to make informed choices and working towards peace and democracy. “Belligerents cannot,” Mr Matsuura stressed, “regard media staff and media outlets as military targets. And in times of extreme hardship for the region, with hundreds of civilian deaths, the courage of journalists attempting to keep us informed of events deserves recognition.”
Suleiman al-Chidiac, the head of a Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) transmission facility at Fatqa, northeast of Beirut, is reported to have been killed on 22 July during Israeli air attacks on television transmitters and telephone towers in north Lebanon. Layal Nagib, a freelance photographer for the Lebanese magazine Al-Jaras and Agence France-Presse, is reported to have been killed on 23 July. She was in a taxi on her way to meet a convoy of villagers fleeing Israeli bombardments in south Lebanon when she was hit by shrapnel.
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…”