UNESCO condemns murders of journalists in Philippines, Bangladesh

22 November 2005

Stressing yet again that a free press is vital for democracy, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored the murder of two journalists in the Philippines and a third in Bangladesh.

Stressing yet again that a free press is vital for democracy, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored the murder of two journalists in the Philippines and a third in Bangladesh.

“These heinous crimes are unacceptable attacks on the fundamental human right of freedom of expression, which, along with freedom of the press, constitutes an essential component of democracy and rule of law,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said.

His statements are the latest in a long series of condemnations he has issued recently over attacks on journalists around the world. UNESCO’s mandate includes the defence of freedom of expression and press freedom.

Philippines journalists Ricardo “Ding” Uy, an announcer on DZRS-AM radio in Sorsogon City and president of the Media Reporters Association of the province, and Robert Ramos, reporter for Katapat, were killed in separate attacks.

According to a report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Mr. Uy was gunned down outside his home last Friday. Robert Ramos was shot in front of a market in Barangay Loc, Cabuyao, Laguna, on Sunday, the 9th Philippines journalist to be killed this year, according to IFJ, bringing to 72 the number killed there since the country returned to democracy in 1986.

“Violence against journalists in the Philippines has reached alarming proportions. I must, once again, pay tribute to the courage of Philippines journalists who risk their lives for the values of freedom of expression and democracy,” Mr. Matsuura said, calling on the authorities to take strong measures to pursue and punish the perpetrators.

Guatam Das, the Faridpur District bureau chief and correspondent of the daily Samakal in Bangladesh, was found strangled with his hands and legs fractured in his office last Thursday, according to IFEX, the international freedom of expression network.

“I am shocked by the brutal killing of this young reporter and wish to support the large number of Bangladeshi journalists and other professionals who have been calling for the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of this crime,” Mr. Matsuura said.

“I draw some comfort from the fact that so many people in Bangladesh realize that this crime affects their society as a whole in view of the essential role journalists play in sustaining democracy and rule of law.”

 

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