Director-general recalls importance of freedom of expression after banning of journalist from Beirut SummitParis - UNESCO Director-General Ko´chiro Matsuura today recalled the paramount importance of freedom of expression in response to reports concerning journalist Gideon Kouts who was prevented from exercising his professional activity during an international Summit in Lebanon late last week, despite his accreditation to the meeting as a reporter for French publication L'Arche.
On Friday October 18, Mr Kouts, a reporter who holds both French and Israeli nationalities, was surrounded by an angry crowd and prevented from entering the press centre at the Sommet de la Francophonie meeting of French-speaking states in Beirut. He was accused of filing a report to an Israeli television channel, in violation of Lebanese law.
Reacting to the incident the Director-General declared: "It is difficult for me to accept the imposition of restrictions on journalists seeking to do their work as reporters, regardless of their nationality and the nationality of the audience targeted by their media. I deplore the fact that Mr Kouts was subjected to pressure that prevented him from exercising his profession freely during an international event as important as the Sommet de la Francophonie. It is my duty to recall that UNESCO is committed to defend the free flow of ideas by word and image, in keeping with its Constitution. It is also committed to defend freedom of expression, a right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."