UNESCO chief condemns latest murder of Iraqi journalist

UNESCO chief condemns latest murder of Iraqi journalist

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Responding to the mounting death toll of media professionals in Iraq, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the killing of the latest victim: Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti, editor of a new Iraqi weekly, al-Youm.

Responding to the mounting death toll of media professionals in Iraq, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the killing of the latest victim: Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti, editor of a new Iraqi weekly, al-Youm.

Koïchiro Matsuura also condemned the murder of the unnamed chauffeur of a female correspondent of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty whose body was found in Iraq on 22 October. The correspondent has been missing since that date. The assassinated driver and the kidnapped journalist have not been named, to protect the safety of the journalist.

“Harassing, intimidating, kidnapping and killing journalists and those brave enough to work with them in extremely dangerous environments represents an attack on the human rights of entire societies,” said Mr. Matsuura in a statement released at the agency's Paris headquarters.

“The people of Iraq, like all of us, have a fundamental and inalienable right to inform one another about events and discuss them. Violence cannot be allowed to take the place of freedom of speech,” concluded Mr Matsuura, whose agency has a mandate to defend press freedom.

Mr al-Hiti, 27, was last seen alive on 28 October when he left his house to go to the office of al-Youm, which was launched earlier this month. His dead body was found later on that day in the Ur neighbourhood of Baghdad. He is the 122nd journalist killed in Iraq since March 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The CPJ also reports that 42 media support staff have been killed in the country since the start of the war.