Director-General condemns murders of Iraqi journalists Raed Qaies and Saed Mahdi ShalashThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder, on 26 October, of Iraqi journalist Saed Mahdi Shalash, whose wife was also killed, and of journalist Raed Qaies on 14 October. He urged measures to stop the slaughter of journalists in the country.
“I condemn the murders of Mr and Mrs Saed Mahdi Shalash and of Raed Qaies,” the Director-General said. “I am horrified at the campaign of extermination being waged against journalists and media workers in Iraq. This campaign is jeopardizing efforts to rebuild the country as a democracy and I call on the authorities to spare no effort in seeking out and bringing to trial those responsible for crimes against media professionals.
“These murderers clearly aim to deprive Iraqis of the basic human right of freedom of expression, which is fundamental to the exercise of all other rights and freedoms. It has become almost impossible for journalists to carry out their professional duties in Iraq and I call on the authorities to ensure better protection to media staff brave enough to risk their lives for their work,” concluded Mr Matsuura.
Saed Mahdi Shalash, who worked for the Rayat Al Arab newspaper, was shot dead along with his wife in their home in the west of Baghdad last week. Raed Qaies, 29, who worked for radio stations Sawt Al Iraq and Somer Radio, was killed in southern Baghdad earlier this month.
According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Saed Mahdi Shalash is the 154th media worker killed in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003.
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 the Organization is requested 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…”