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UNESCO chief deplores death of Iraqi editor

UNESCO chief deplores death of Iraqi editor

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom worldwide today condemned the murder of the Iraqi journalist Filaih Wadi Mijthab, who was kidnapped on 13 June and then executed by his abductors.

“His abduction and execution add yet another name to the long list of journalists and other media professionals who have been murdered,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mr. Mijthab was the managing director of the daily newspaper al-Sabah, part of the Iraqi Government-owned media. Under the previous regime, he was a columnist for al-Thawra, a daily newspaper.

He was abducted on 13 June while driving to his office in the Al-Habibiya district of Baghdad’s Sadr City neighbourhood, and his body was found on 15 June near a mosque in the same area.

Journalism as a profession “is regularly targeted in Iraq, when it has a crucial role to play in the country’s reconstruction,” Mr. Matsuura noted. “It is in everyone’s interest, and in the interest of democracy, that the press be better protected.”

The Director-General reiterated his appeal to both Iraqi and international authorities to bolster security for media professionals and those who work for them.

The latest murder brings the total to 29 journalists who have been killed in Iraq in the last six months alone, averaging more than one weekly, according to the organization Reporters without Borders. Currently, 14 journalists are being held hostage, some having already spent months in captivity.

In another development, a conference on the significance of cultural diversity wrapped up at UNESCO headquarters in Paris today.

About 300 participants from 57 States Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, as well as observers and civil society representatives, attended the gathering.

The Convention aims to strengthen ties between culture and sustainable development, while respecting human rights, fundamental freedoms, equal dignity of cultures and cultural openness. It also recognises that nations have the sovereign right to determine policies to promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their borders.

During the meeting, rules of procedure were adopted and 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee were elected, with several seats having been reserved for developing countries. This Committee will be responsible for such matters as promoting the Convention’s objectives and ensuring its implementation.