UNESCO chief denounces journalists’ murders in Philippines
In yet another bid to defend the freedom of the press, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has denounced the murder of two hard-hitting journalists in the Philippines this month as undermining the very foundations of democracy.
“In view of the essential role the media play in a democratic society, attacks on journalists must be treated as attacks on society and on rule of law,” Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said yesterday of the killing of Gene Boyd Lumawag, a photographer with the MindaNews news service, and Herson Hinolan, manager and commentator of Bombo Radiyo radio station.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, six other journalists have been killed in the line of duty in the Philippines so far this year and a total of 47 journalists have been murdered in the country since the establishment of democracy there in 1986.
Mr. Lumawag was shot dead 12 November in Jolo, capital of the southern Sulu Province, where he had gone to work on a video documentary about transparency and local government practices. Mr Hinolan, known as a hard-hitting commentator, was shot the next day in Kalibo in the central Panay Island and died of his injuries two days later.
Mr. Matsuura also voiced concern over the lack of safety in which journalists carry out their work in many parts of the world, mentioning two specific fatal incidents this month alone.
Antoine Massé, a correspondent for the daily Le Courrier d'Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire was fatally shot on 7 November while covering a violent demonstration in the western town of Duékoué in which several people died, and Nicaraguan journalist Maria José Bravo of La Prensa daily was shot in a fight between rival political factions as she was covering elections in the northeastern city of Juigalpa.
These killings bear testimony to “the dedication of media professionals worldwide whose courage leads them to disregard danger in seeking to collect information and report first-hand about events in the places they cover,” Mr. Matsuura said. “Their work is of capital importance to all of us and it is essential that they be able to carry out their duty in reasonable conditions of safety.”