16 November 2006 The head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom today deplored the murder of yet one more Iraqi journalist, saying it was vital to bring an end to “the outrageous campaign of bloodshed” against media professionals in the violence-racked country.
At the same time, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura condemned the killing of a Mexican journalist, possibly because of investigative reports on drug trafficking.
Muhammad al-Ban, 58, a reporter and cameraman for the privately owned Iraqi Al-Sharqiya TV, was shot by unidentified gunmen as he was leaving his home in Mosul on Monday, the second Al-Sharqiya journalist killed this month. His wife was also reportedly wounded in the attack.
“It is appalling that yet another dedicated Iraqi journalist has had to pay with his life for the basic human right of freedom of expression and for the fundamental democratic freedom of the people of Iraq to be kept informed of events that concern them,” Mr Matsuura said.
“It is essential for the reconstruction of Iraq and for the country’s return to rule of law that a halt be brought to the outrageous campaign of bloodshed waged against journalists and other media professionals,” he added.
According to the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ), 86 journalists and 37 media support workers have been killed in direct relation to their work in Iraq since the United States-led invasion in March 2003.
In the second case, Misael Tamayo Hernández, editor of the regional daily El Despertar de la Costa, was found dead in a motel room in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero last Friday. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported a possible link between the murder and the paper’s investigative reports on drug trafficking.
“I am deeply concerned about the increase of violence against journalists in Mexico and trust that the authorities will do all they can to ensure respect for freedom of expression, a basic human right that is the foundation of democracy,” Mr Matsuura said. “To this end, the perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice.”
According to RSF, this murder brings to seven the number of journalists killed or missing in Mexico since the start of 2006 and confirms it as the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for the press.