The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder of Venezuelan newspaper columnist Wilfred Iván Ojeda, shot dead in the city of La Victoria on 17 May.
“I condemn the murder of Wilfred Iván Ojeda,” the Director-General said. “I urge the authorities to investigate this crime which affects society’s ability to enjoy the basic human right of freedom of expression and the democratic right to engage in open political debate.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that the 56-year-old columnist of the El Clarín daily and Democratic Action party activist was discovered in a vacant lot, shot in the head.
Ojeda’s columns focused on local politics and were not considered harsh, according to local journalists.
According to the CPJ, three journalists have been killed for their work in Venezuela since 2002: Orel Sambrano, Jorge Aguirre, and Jorge Ibraín Tortoza Cruz. Three other journalists are reported to have been killed in the country over the same period: Pierre Fould Gerges, Jesús Rafael Flores Rojas, and Mauro Marcano. But the motives for their killing are still the subject of investigation by the CPJ.
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…”