UNESCO chief condemns killing of journalists in Brazil and Haiti

19 July 2005

Condemning the recent murder of journalists in Brazil and Haiti, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has yet again stressed that an attack on reporters is an attack on society itself.

Condemning the recent murder of journalists in Brazil and Haiti, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has yet again stressed that an attack on reporters is an attack on society itself.

Cândido Amorim Pinto, host of one of the most popular programmes on Rádio Comunitária Alterniva FM in the north-eastern Brazilian city of Carpina, was shot dead on 1 July. He was known for his outspoken criticism of nepotism and corruption and had survived an earlier attempt on his life last May.

“An attack on a radio journalist is also an attack on freedom of expression and democracy,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a message.

“As stressed by the 1997 resolution signed by UNESCO Member States, any physical violence against media professionals is ‘a crime against society, since this curtails freedom of expression and, as a consequence, the other rights and freedoms set forth in international human rights instruments,’” he added.

“I am sure that Brazilian authorities will do their utmost to identify the culprits of this crime and bring them to justice, as they have done recently in other cases involving the murder of journalists in the country.”

Haitian journalist Jacques Roche, cultural editor with the daily Le Matin and host of a television show, was kidnapped in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on 10 July and his body was found four days later after his captors demanded a ransom of $250,000. His murder was not directly linked to his professional activities, but “the press is one of the sectors most at risk in this climate of terror,” Mr. Matsuura said.

“A free and independent press, which is an essential component of a democratic society, cannot exist in such conditions. I trust that the Government of Haiti will play its part in restoring order and the rule of law,” he said.

Mr. Matsuura's statements were the latest in a long series of condemnations of attacks on journalists around the world that he has issued recently. UNESCO's mandate includes the defence of freedom of expression and press freedom.

 

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