The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the shooting of reporter and cameraman Zakariya Isa in the north-eastern Nigerian state of Borno on 22 October, and called for an investigation into the killing.
“I condemn the murder of Zakariya Isa and call on the authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice,” the Director-General said. “Free and independent media play an essential part in informing the open debate that is the cornerstone of democracy and good governance. Journalists cannot fulfil this role if they themselves are the targets of violence and intimidation.” Zakariya Isa worked for the Nigerian Television Authority. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) he was shot dead in his home. An armed movement is reported to have claimed responsibility for his murder. RSF reports that last September the same movement threatened to attack news media if they misrepresented its activities. The press freedom organization also states that a further three journalists from the Nigeria Television Authority have received threatening SMS messages telling them to leave the region.
UNESCO is the only 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…”