UNESCO chief condemns killing of Brazilian journalist

3 August 2006

The head of the United Nations cultural agency today condemned the beating death of a 73-year-old freelance journalist and longtime municipal government critic in Brazil.

According to the Brazilian Press Association, Ajuricaba Monassa de Paula was beaten to death by a municipal councillor in the town square of Guapimirim, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, on 24 July. The councillor, Osvaldo Vivas, was also a martial arts expert, the Association said.

“Beating a journalist to death is a poor substitute for the sort of democratic debate that can be fostered by free and independent media,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mr. Monassa de Paula began his career in journalism with the daily Imprensa Popular and later wrote for magazines and websites. He was a constant critic of the municipal government, according to the Association.

“Resorting to violence to muzzle different opinions is an unacceptable breach of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression,” said Mr. Matsuura. “Such a crime cannot be tolerated in a democratic society.”

UNESCO is the only UN agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.

 

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