Director-General condemns new wave of killing of journalists in IraqThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of four journalists in separate attacks in Iraq since late July and called for measures to counter the alarming campaign against freedom of the press in the country.
“I condemn the murders of Iraqi journalists Mohammad Abbas Mohammad, Ismail Amin Ali, Adel Najee al-Mansouri, and Riyad Muhammad Ali,” the Director-General declared. “I am deeply concerned about the unrelenting violence against journalists and media workers in Iraq. I believe that new measures are called for and I urge all those working for the reconstruction of the country to consult media organizations with a view to identifying such measures that could help make respect for the fundamental human right of freedom of expression an absolute priority,” Mr Matsuura concluded.
Unidentified gunmen shot Mohammad Abbas Mohammad, 28, as he was travelling to work in western Baghdad on 7 August. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Mr Mohammed, an editor for the Al-Bayinnah Al-Jadida newspaper, was highly critical of politicians and officials regardless of their affiliation. He is reported to have received several death threats in connection with his work.
Later on the same day, police found the bullet-riddled body of freelance journalist Ismail Amin Ali, 30, in eastern Baghdad. The CPJ reports that Mr Ali, a well-known columnist for several papers including Al-Sabah and Al-Qarar, may have been targeted because he was critical of the security forces.
Adel Najee al-Mansouri, 34, a correspondent for the Iranian satellite channel Al-Alam was intercepted and shot by unidentified gunmen on 29 July as he was driving his car in western Baghdad, according to the CPJ. Mr al-Mansouri is the first journalist from the Iranian channel to be murdered in Iraq, the CPJ reported.
Riyad Muhammad Ali, a reporter for the local weekly Talafar al-Yawm, was shot by unidentified assailants in Mosul on 30 July, according to the CPJ. He was the second journalist from the weekly to be murdered.
Since war began on 20 March 2003, 77 journalists and 27 media support workers have been killed in Iraq, according to CPJ.
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…”