The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the killing of one of Iraq’s most prominent radio journalists, Hadi al-Mahdi, and called for an investigation into the killing.
"I condemn the murder of Hadi al-Mahdi," the Director-General said. "Hadi al-Mahdi and other fearless journalists and commentators are the very soul of democratic debate. They practice the fundamental human right of freedom of expression for the benefit of us all. Those who kill journalists must be brought to justice, lest fear paralyze both the media and the ordinary people who rely on professional journalists for the news and analysis that inform their political choice."
Hadi al-Mahdi, 44, hosted one of the most popular talk shows in Baghdad, on Radio Demozy. Aired three times a week, al-Mahdi’s programme was uninhibited in its criticism of many subjects, including corruption.
The journalist died from gunshots to his head. He was found dead in his home in central Baghdad on 8 September. According to Reporters without Borders, al-Mahdi had been receiving threats but he refused to be intimidated by them.
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…”