The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova today condemned the brutal killing of Syrian cameraman Ferzat Jarban who was found dead on 20 November. She called on the authorities of Syria to respect the basic human right of freedom of expression, particulary press freedom.
“I condemn the killing of Ferzat Jarban,” the Director-General declared. “This ruthless attack must not go unpunished. It is a violation of the basic human right of freedom of expression and of journalists’ inalienable right and duty to carry out their work in safety and without hindrance. I call on the government of Syria to stop all forms of violence against journalists immediately. I also appeal to the authorities to put an end to flagrant repression against those who report on current events in the country.”
Ferzat Jarban, a freelance cameraman, is reported to have been arrested after filming anti-government protests in al-Qasir on 19 November. His severely mutilated body was found the next morning. He is the first journalist reported to have been killed in the eight month crack-down on pro-democracy protests in Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The CPJ reports that it is investigating a number of cases concerning journalists who have gone missing in Syria.
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…”