Director-General urges respect for press freedom in Libya

The Director-General of UNESCO today expressed grave concern for the safety of journalists in Libya after receiving confirmation of the killing of six journalists in the country in recent months.

“I condemn the killing of journalists Muftah al-Qatrani, Khaled Al Sobhi, Younes Al Mabruk Al Nawfali, Abdallah Al Karkaai, Yousef Kader Boh and Mohamed Jalal,” the Director-General said. Press freedom and freedom of expression must be protected, especially in times of insecurity and unrest when the public’s need for information becomes absolutely crucial. The safety of civilians, including journalists, must be treated as a priority in all efforts to restore stability and the rule of law to Libya.”

The dead body of Libya Al-Wataniya TV’s correspondent in Benghazi Muftah al-Qatrani was found in the office of the production company he managed in the city on 22 April.

A few days later, the bodies of four Libyan and one Egyptian journalists working for Barqa TV were found by Libyan military in a forested area in the east of Benghazi. Their identity was established as: Khaled Al Sobhi (aka Khalid Alhmil), Younes Al Mabruk Al Nawfali (aka Younes Alsul), Abdallah Al Karkaai (aka Abdelsalam Al Kahla), Yousef Kader Boh (aka Yousef Al Gamoudi) and Egyptian photographer Mohamed Jalal. The five journalists had been missing since August.

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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Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

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…”