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Murder of Yet One More Iraqi Journalist Deplored

UNESCO Chief Deplores Murder of Yet One More Iraqi Journalist

New York, Jun 7 2006 5:00PM

With yet one more Iraqi journalist murdered, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today yet again stressed the vital role of a free press plays in establishing democracy, voicing the hoped that “the authorities will be able to stop this wave of assassinations which is as tragic as it is senseless.”

Ali Jaafar 24, a well-known sports correspondent and anchor with Iraq’s State television channel Al-Iraqiya, was shot by unidentified gunmen last week as he opened up the motorcar shop of his recently deceased brother in southwest Baghdad. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Mr Jaafar’s colleagues believe he was killed because he worked for Al-Iraqiya.

“The Iraqi media have been paying an unacceptable toll for the basic human right of freedom of expression,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement.

“Enemies of reconstruction and rule of law in Iraq, are waging a campaign of violence against media workers of all categories, demonstrating that they too understand the essential role that a vibrant media environment plays in the establishment of participatory democracy.”

Al-Iraqiya and its staff have suffered numerous attacks and the CPJ reports that at least 16 other employees of the station and its affiliates have been killed since 2004. Seventy-three journalists and 26 media support workers have been killed since 20 March, according to the media organization.

UNESCO has a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom, and Mr. Matsuura has issued frequent condemnations of the murder of journalists around the world.


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