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UNESCO deplores killings of journalists in DR Congo, Iraq and Mexico

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova

UNESCO deplores killings of journalists in DR Congo, Iraq and Mexico

The United Nations agency tasked with defending and promoting press freedom today voiced outrage at the recent killings of journalists working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Iraq and Mexico.

Witness-Patchelly Kambale Musonia, who hosted a news show on Radio Lubero Sud, was shot dead on 22 June near his home in Kirumba in North Kivu province on the DRC.

His killers remain unidentified, but Mr. Kambale Musonia – the sixth journalist to be killed in the DRC’s troubled east since 2007 – had recently reported on the activities of gangs of armed bandits in Kirumba, according to a statement from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The agency’s Director-General Irina Bokova condemned the murder and urged Congolese authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Such crimes affect society’s ability to enjoy the basic human right of freedom of expression,” she said. “The death of a journalist in violent circumstances is an attempt to silence the all-important voice of the press.”

Ms. Bokova also deplored the death on 21 June of cameraman Alwan al-Ghorabi, who died in a car bomb explosion in the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniyya, becoming the fourth journalist to be killed in that country this year.

Mr. al-Ghorabi, who worked for the Afaq satellite television channel, was reportedly with several other journalists at the entrance of a Government building when the bomb exploded.

Ms. Bokova said this latest death is a reminder of how precarious the security situation still is in Iraq.

“Media professionals, working to keep citizens informed, are particularly exposed,” she noted.

In addition, the Director-General has hit out at the death of a Mexican newspaper columnist, Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco, who was murdered – along with his wife and 21-year-old son – by unknown assailants at their home in the eastern city of Veracruz on 20 June.

The deputy director of Notiver, a daily newspaper, Mr. Lopez Velasco wrote a regular column about security, drug trafficking and corruption. He is the 13th journalist to have been slain in Mexico since last year.

“Such barbaric attempts to silence the media – and, by extension, the voices of citizens and communities – must be firmly condemned and punished,” Ms. Bokova said.

“We must stand clearly alongside those courageous journalists who, at great risk to themselves and those close to them, are working to keep citizens informed about the forces and events influencing their society.”

UNESCO, which began work in 1946, has a specific mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.