Director-general condemns murder of journalists in India and PakistanParis - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today urged Pakistan and India to bring the assassins of two journalists to justice.
In Pakistan, Shahid Soomro, correspondent in the town of Kandhkot for the Hyderabad-based Sindhi-language daily Kawish, is reported to have been shot dead on October 20 in revenge for his recent election reporting. Commenting the assassination, Mr Matsuura declared:
"I wish to condemn this odious crime which is a direct attack on freedom of speech, a right UNESCO is committed to defend and promote. It is my duty, as Director-General of the United Nations Organization in charge of promoting the free flow of ideas by word and image, to condemn such assassinations and, in keeping with the Resolution adopted by UNESCO's General Conference of Member States on November 12, 1997, to urge the authorities to take determined steps to bring the assassins to justice. In keeping with that Resolution, and considering that the killers are reported to have been identified, it is capital for democracy, press freedom, and the rule of law that justice be seen to be carried out."
The Director-General also condemned the shooting - in Imphal, in the Indian state of Manipur, on October 13 - of television journalist Yambem Meghajit Singh. Mr Meghajit Singh, who worked for the production company North East Vision, appears to have been tortured before he was shot.
Mr Megahjit Singh was also the vice-president of the Manipur Electronic Media Journalists' Union. His killing follows a wave of violence against journalists in the north-eastern state, which has led to the death of at least four journalists over the past three years, according to the non-governmental organization Reporters sans frontières. The torture and murder of Mr Meghajit Singh has been connected to his critical reporting on both separatist groups and local politicians.
"It is tragic and totally unacceptable for any society that those contributing to public debate have to pay for their work with their lives. No effort must be spared to ensure that the perpetrators of this murder be brought to trial," the Director-General said.