Killing of Iraqi journalists sparks condemnation from UNESCO head

6 June 2008
UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored the recent killing of two Iraqi journalists, and called for ensuring the safety of media professionals in the strife-torn nation.

Expressing his outrage over the deaths of Wissam Ali Ouda and Haidar Hashem Al-Husseini, who were killed in separate incidents in Baghdad and in Diyala, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura noted that journalists in Iraq have been paying “an unacceptable toll” for their right to practice their profession.

“Freedom of expression and the public’s right to know are essential for democracy and I urge the Iraqi Government to step up measures to improve the safety of media workers,” he stated.

Mr. Ouda, a 32-year-old cameraman with Afaq TV, was shot by a sniper on 21 May as he was returning to his home in the Al-Obeidi district of Baghdad.

The body of Mr. Al-Husseini, 36, a reporter for the independent daily Al-Sharq, was found on 21 May in a common grave near Baquba, 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad. He had been kidnapped a day earlier and was then shot dead.

According to Reporters Without Borders, these two cases bring to seven the number of journalists killed in Iraq since the start of the year and to 215 the overall media death toll since March 2003.


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