Director-General condemns murder of Colombian journalist Milton Fabián SánchezThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koďchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of radio journalist Milton Fabián Sánchez in Yumbo, in southeastern Colombia on 9 August.
“I condemn the murder of Milton Fabián Sánchez,” the Director-General said, “and I urge the Colombian authorities to do all they can to bring the culprits of this crime to justice.”
“Although I welcome the commitment shown by the authorities in Colombia to defend press freedom and note the decrease in the number of deadly attacks on journalists in the country over the past two years,” the Director-General concluded, “I am concerned about this murder and about reports of continued threats and intimidation against journalist, notably those reporting on crime.”
Mr Sánchez, a journalist with the radio station Yumbo Estéreo, was on his way home at approximately 10.30 p.m. when he was shot by two men riding a motorcycle. He died of his injuries in hospital an hour and a half later. Mr Sánchez’s programme focused on political and community issues.
Twenty-five journalists have been killed in Colombia over the past decade, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which reports a decline in the number of attacks against media professionals in the country with one murder in 2005, and one so far this year. But the CPJ reports continued threats against journalists, notably those covering issues relating to crime and corruption.
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…”