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UNESCO chief condemns murders of journalists in Iraq and Philippines

UNESCO chief condemns murders of journalists in Iraq and Philippines

UNESCO head Koïchiro Matsuura
The head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom today voiced his outrage at the recent killings of an Iraqi cameraman and of a Filipino broadcaster and columnist.

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said the murder of Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, 35, who worked for the Associated Press news agency, in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul only underlined the need for urgent measures to protect journalists in the strife-torn country.

At least 163 journalists and other media industry workers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

“Unless journalists and media workers are able to exercise their profession in conditions of reasonable safety, there can be little hope for the emergence of Iraq as a free and independent democracy,” Mr. Matsuura said.

Mr. Lutfallah was shot dead by insurgents after they saw him filming their fight with police last month in Mosul.

In the Philippines, Ponciano Grande – a former columnist for Nueva Ecija – was shot and killed by two attackers last week while visiting his farm in the Cabantuan City region. He became the 11th journalist killed in the Philippines this year and the 47th since 2001.

Calling on Filipino authorities to spare no efforts in locating Mr. Grande’s killers and bringing them to trial, Mr. Matsuura said “the perpetrators of such crimes are undermining the basic human right of freedom of expression and democracy of which it is a cornerstone.”