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UN calls for new measures to ‘counter decimation’ of journalists in Iraq

UN calls for new measures to ‘counter decimation’ of journalists in Iraq

The head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom today called for new measures “to counter the decimation” of media professionals in Iraq following the murder of two more Iraqi journalists.

The body of Hamid al-Duleimi, 37, a producer of TV channel al-Nahrain was found on 19 March in the Baghdad morgue, two days after he had been abducted, while Hussein al Jaburi, the 63-year-old editor of the daily newspaper al-Safir, died on 16 March in a hospital in Amman, Jordan, from injuries sustained during an attack outside his Baghdad home on 11 February.

“Both these media professionals have paid with their lives for their courage and determination to pursue their professional commitment in a hostile environment,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement.

“Iraq and the world require such courage to make sure that the basic human right of freedom of expression is mobilized on the side of democracy and rule of law. I call on all parties concerned, to study new and more effective ways to investigate these crimes and bring their culprits to justice. This is vital to counter the continued decimation of media professionals in Iraq,” he added.

According to the non-governmental organizations (NGO) Reporters Without Borders, the two deaths bring to 155 the number of journalists killed in Iraq since the United States-led invasion four years ago.

Mr. Matsuura has repeatedly deplored the murder of media workers around the world.

In a related development, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today called for the release of abducted journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi. “Ajmal has no connection with either Afghan or international military forces,” mission spokesman Aleem Siddique told a news briefing in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

“We once again repeat that the rights of journalists to go about their work, free from interference or harm, be recognized and respected by all. This is vital and is specifically recognised for the first time in UNAMA’s new mandate,” he added, referring to the latest Security Council resolution extending the mission. “UNAMA will continue to monitor this case closely.”