The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder on 14 September of José Oquendo Reyes, an investigative TV journalist in Chincha, southern Peru, and voiced concern at the rising death toll among media workers in the country.
“I condemn the murder of José Oquendo Reyes,” the Director-General said. “I am also very concerned about the recent rise in violence against journalists in Peru and trust that the authorities will not let these crimes go unpunished. This is important, lest violence and fear reduce media professionals’ ability to do their job. Fear and insecurity prevent journalists from providing society with the free and independent information needed to sustain the open and informed debate that is the hallmark of any democracy.”
José Oquendo, producer and host of the programme “Without Borders” on BTV Canal 45, was shot as he was entering his home in the town of Pueblo Nuevo in Chincha. Another TV programme director, Pedro Alfonso Flores Silva, was killed in a similar way in the north-western Peruvian city of Casma on 7 September and Julio Castillo Narváez, the producer of an investigative radio programme was shot dead in Virú, in the northwest of the country, on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day.
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…”