United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Director-General condemns the murder of Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya

The Director-General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and paid tribute to her courage and determination to defend freedom of expression.

“I condemn the murder of Anna Politkovskaya,” the Director-General said, adding: “UNESCO grieves her death, which is a great loss to her profession, to her country and to the international community as a whole. Through her articles in Novaya Gazeta, Ms Politkovskaya defended freedom of expression in Russia, a freedom that is a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of democracy.

“Ms Politkovskaya’s indefatigable courage and dedication to her chosen profession won her recognition around the world. I trust that the enquiry that the Russian authorities have undertaken into Ms Politkovskaya’s murder will bear fruit and that the culprits will be brought to justice. It is essential that Ms Politkovskaya’s murderers receive sentences commensurate with the gravity of their actions to prevent the sense that the killing of journalists can be tolerated with impunity. In view of this serious concern, I welcome the fact the Prosecutor General is pursuing this painful case.”

The 48-year-old reporter - who addressed a seminar organized by UNESCO in Manila to celebrate World Press Freedom Day in 2002 and contributed to other UNESCO conferences - was shot dead in her apartment building on Saturday. In recent years her reporting focused primarily on Chechnya.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ms Politkovskaya is the third journalist to be murdered in the Russian Federation this year.

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°2006-125
Publication Date 10 Oct 2006
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