UNESCO Warns on Journalist Murders in Somalia & Pakistan

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the recent killings of journalists in Somalia and Pakistan, underscoring the necessity of press freedom.

“His brutal killing is a heinous crime against a brave journalist and against Somali society as a whole,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“Nothing good will come to the people of Somalia from those seeking to deprive citizens of the right to know and journalists of the basic human right of freedom of expression,” she continued. “Those working for the oppression of Somalia must be thwarted.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-governmental organization (NGO), since 1993, 33 journalists have been killed in the country, which has had not had a functioning central government in nearly two decades.

Also slain this month was Ghulam Rasool Birhamani, a Pakistani newspaper reporter, who is said to have received death threats after reporting on the forced marriage of an under-age girl in a tribal community.

The body of the journalist, 30, was found bearing head injuries and signs of torture near the city of Dadu, in southern Pakistan, on 10 May.

“No society can allow violence to muzzle journalists while aspiring to uphold human rights and liberties, democracy and rule of law,” Ms. Bokova underscored.

Journalists, she stressed, are committed to report the truth as they see it. “No effort must be spared to bring to justice those who seek to deprive us of our right to know what journalists have to say, and to agree or disagree with it.”

In March, a UNESCO report found that rising numbers of journalists are being killed worldwide, mostly in countries that are at peace, and called for an end to impunity in the murders of media professionals.

Last year set a new record, with 77 murders reported by the agency. The high number is due in part to the murder of some 30 journalists in one day during an ambush in the Philippines on 23 November 2009, the publication said.

“Sadly, the frequency of acts of violence against journalists is increasing,” it noted. “In most cases, impunity precludes the way of justice, and if this trend prevails, journalists will remain easy targets. Needless to say this represents a severe threat to freedom of expression and to our ability to seek the truth.”

The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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