Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the 22 March murder of Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid al-Shammari, Baghdad Bureau Chief of Radio Free Iraq (al-Iraq al-Hurr), by an officer of the Iraqi presidential guard, and called for a thorough investigation of the case.
“I call on the Iraqi authorities to do everything necessary to shed light on the circumstances of the murder of Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid al-Shammari. Journalists must be able to work in safe conditions if they are to contribute to informed debate,” the Director-General.
Mohammed Bdaiwi was shot on 22 March in the Al-Jadriya neighbourhood of Baghdad, near the compound that houses Radio Free Iraq, the presidential residence and private homes. According to eyewitnesses, the journalist was in his car when he had an argument with the member of the presidential guard who shot him.
Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid al-Shammari, 46, had worked for Radio Free Iraq since 2006 and directed the broadcaster’s Baghdad bureau over the past two years.
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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…”