The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today denounced the killing of Kurdish journalist Bakhtyar Haddad and French reporter Stephan Villeneuve in the city of Mosul, Iraq.
“I condemn the killing of Bakthyar Haddad and Stephan Villeneuve” said the Director-General. “Journalists face tremendous dangers in carrying out their job, a job where they provide us with vital information enabling us to build towards peace. I remind everyone that journalists are protected as civilians under the Geneva Conventions.”
Mr. Haddad, a reporter who worked as a fixer, assisting foreign reporters, and correspondent Stephan Villeneuve, were working together in Mosul reporting for the France 2 programme, “Envoyé special”. They were covering the frontlines when a roadside bomb exploded, killing Haddad instantly and seriously injuring Villeneuve and other team members on 19 June. Villeneuve was transported to the hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds within a few hours.
The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
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UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”