Director-General condemns brutal killing of Sudanese newspaper editor Mohammed Taha Mohammed AhmedThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the kidnapping and beheading of Sudanese newspaper editor Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
“I condemn the brutal murder of Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed,” the Director-General said. “Freedom of expression is not only a fundamental human right but also a pre-requisite for effective democracy and rule of law. I am deeply shocked by Mr Mohammed Taha’s murder and the brutal way in which has was killed. I call on the Sudanese authorities to do all they can to ensure that Mr Mohammed Taha’s killers are brought to trial.”
Mr Mohammed Taha, the 50-year-old editor-in-chief of the privately-owned daily Al-Wifaq, was kidnapped by masked gunmen outside his home on 5 September. Police found his decapitated body the following day.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that Mr Mohammed Taha was detained for several days in May 2005 and that his paper was closed for three months after he published an article considered blasphemous. Six-months ago, also according to the CPJ, unidentified assailants set fire to the offices of Al-Wifaq, badly damaging the building.
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…”