UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has condemned the assassination of freelance Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by extremists in Syria and urged all media workers in the country and neighbouring Iraq to take every possible precaution to ensure their safety.
“Kenji Goto was a seasoned war journalist, dedicated to exposing the suffering that conflict imposes on citizens,” the Director-General said. “His cold-blooded murder was a vile act that I condemn in the strongest possible terms.
“I urge the authorities to do everything within their power to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. I also call on journalists and all media workers covering events in Iraq and Syria, and in other conflict zones, to take all necessary measures for enhancing their safety.”
Kenji Goto, 47, had previously worked in Afghanistan and Syria, for several Japanese news outlets, including public broadcaster NHK, television network TV Asahi and several newspapers. He travelled to Syria in late October and went missing shortly afterwards. On Saturday, 31 January, extremists released a video of his beheading.
UNESCO advocates for the better protection of journalists working in dangerous environments and works to sensitize media organizations on the need to prepare journalists for the dangers of war reporting. A book on the subject can be downloaded free of charge at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001869/186986e.pdf.
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…”