The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the recent killings of one journalist in Libya and another in Somalia and urged authorities in the two countries to respect the rights of the press.
"Freedom of expression is fundamental to good governance and rule of law – torturing and silencing those who denounce problems does not make the problems go away," UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement condemning the torture and murder of Libyan writer and journalist Daif Al Ghazal.
In a separate statement, Mr. Matsuura also denounced the killing of Somali radio journalist Duniya Muhiyadin Nur while calling for improved safety for reporters working in Somalia.
"I am concerned that those in positions of power in Somalia should respect the right of journalists to carry out their professional duties as an essential element in constructing a better future for their country." Mr. Matsuura said in the statement.
Mr. Al Ghazal, 32, was a journalist for the London-based online newspaper Libya Al-Youm (Libya Today). According to the nongovernmental organization Reporters Without Borders, he was kidnapped on 21 May and his body was found on 2 June, "barely recognizable" due to "many signs of torture."
"Mr. Ghazal was a brave and committed journalist…the brutal torture he was made to endure before his death speaks volumes about the moral principles of his killers," Mr. Matsuura said.
Ms. Nur was shot on 5 June while covering a protest by bus and truck drivers near Mogadishu against the growing number of military roadblocks in the region. The 26-year-old reporter for radio HornAfrik is the second journalist to be killed in the country this year, according to Reporters Without Borders. The NGO recalled that BBC reporter Kate Peyton was killed in Mogadishu in February.
Mr. Matsuura's statements today were the latest in a series of condemnations he has issued recently over attacks on journalists around the world.