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February, 2004

UNESCO Chief Deplores Killing Of Journalists

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the killing of five journalists in recent weeks and deplored the fact that more reporters were killed in the line of duty in 2003 than in any year since 1995.

"As long as violence is used to muzzle the voice of reporters, the free flow of ideas, which UNESCO has been created to promote, will remain an unattainable ideal," Director-General Ko•chiro Matsuura said yesterday in Paris, deploring the impunity surrounding the vast majority of these killings.

Mr. Matsuura also voiced grave concern over the high number of journalists imprisoned in 2003 - 766 were arrested and 124 were reported to be in jail in the latter part of the year.

The five murdered journalists he named were Ersa Siregar of the private Indonesian television channel Rajawali Citra Televisivi, who had been held captive for six months by separatist rebels in Aceh; Ivannia Mora Rodriguez in Costa Rica; William Soto Cheng in Colombia; Volodymyr Karachevtsev, deputy editor-in-chief of the weekly Ukrainian newspaper Kurier; and Marco Boukoukou Boussaga, Editor-in-Chief of L'Autre journal in Gabon.

"It is a source of grave concern that the number of journalists killed in the line of duty in 2003 was higher than in any year since 1995," Mr. Matssura said. His comments on the toll were based on reports of professional organizations, which recorded as many as 42 deaths in 2003, compared to at most 25 in 2002. In 1995, a record 49 journalists were murdered, including 22 in the civil conflict in Algeria. Up to 19 of the journalists killed in 2003 died in Iraq, 5 in the Philippines and 3 in Colombia.

Mr. Matsuura pointed out that "the vast majority of the killings remain un-investigated and unpunished" despite a 1997 pledge by UNESCO's Members.

 

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