Philippines: UNESCO chief condemns murder of journalist

5 August 2004

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the assassination of a radio broadcaster in the Philippines, the third journalist killed in the Southeast Asian nation this year, calling it “a crime against society as a whole.”

Roger Mariano, of DZJC-Aksyon Radio was shot dead by unknown assailants in Laoag City, in the north of the Philippines on 31 July shortly after leaving the radio station. He is the 46th journalist to be assassinated since the restoration of democracy in 1986.

“It is essential that the perpetrators of this cowardly act be brought to justice,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said, noting that the murder “appears to be a cold blooded attempt to silence a critical voice.

“The link between a free and independent press and democracy cannot be overstated. Intimidation and murder of journalists is therefore a crime against society as a whole, not just against the individuals targeted,” he concluded.

Earlier this year Mr. Matsuura drew attention to what he called “a sharp increase in the number of journalists killed over the past year, despite the efforts of the authorities to fight these crimes.”

Seven journalists were reported to have been killed in the country in 2003, the worst year for the profession there since 1986.

 

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