UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today expressed her shock and sorrow over the brutal murder of French radio journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, who were kidnapped and executed by an armed group near the northern city of Kidal on Saturday 2 November. Mrs Bokova firmly condemned the killings and welcomed the determined response by the authorities to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“The kidnap and murder of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon is a heinous crime that stands condemned by the whole world,” said the Director-General. “My heartfelt condolences go out to the families and colleagues of these two journalists, who devoted their lives to their profession, often in very dangerous circumstances. They have paid the highest possible price for doing their job; for defending freedom of expression and people’s right to information; for contributing – through their reporting – to Mali’s struggle against violence and extremism, and its efforts to rebuild.
“I went to northern Mali last February, where I witnessed the attempts of extremists to undermine the very foundations of society and impose their reign of terror, by attacking the symbols of the region’s culture, including monuments, schools and the media. I also saw the determination of the Malian people to resist and rebuild.”
Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, worked for Radio France International (RFI). Dupont had 25 years of experience as an investigative reporter and analyst of African affairs. Verlon was a senior radio technician, with over 30 years of experience reporting in some of the world’s most difficult regions, including Afghanistan and Libya. Their bullet-riddled bodies were found by French military forces about 12 kilometres outside of Kidal, shortly after they had been kidnapped by unidentified commandoes in the centre of the city.
Dupont and Verlon are the first journalists killed in Mali this year, and are remembered on the dedicated webpage, UNESCO Condemns Killing of Journalists.
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…
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