Iraq: UNESCO speaks out after slaying of radio journalist

12 September 2011 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today condemned the killing of one of the most prominent and outspoken radio journalists in Iraq.

The body of Hadi al-Mahdi, the 44-year-old host of a popular talk show on Baghdad’s Radio Demozy, was found on 8 September after he was shot dead in his home in the capital, according to a statement from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mr. al-Mahdi’s show was renowned for being uninhibited for its discussions of many subjects, including corruption in Iraq, and the statement noted that, according to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Reporters without Borders, the journalist had received threats before his death.

“Hadi al-Mahdi and other fearless journalists and commentators are the very soul of democratic debate,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as she called for an investigation into the killing.

“They practise 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.”


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