Voicing grave concern over an increase in attacks on journalists in Bangladesh, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the recent assassination of Golam Mahfuz, editor of a daily newspaper in that country.“The killing of Mr. Mahfuz is a heinous attack on democracy and rule of law,” said Koïchiro Matsuura Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “It is my sincere hope that the authorities will be able to elucidate this murder and bring its perpetrators to justice, an indispensable condition to stop attacks on freedom of expression, which is a basic human right, he added.”Mr. Mahfuz, editor of the Comilla Muktakantha, was stabbed to death on 31 May in his home east of the capital Dhaka. He is the fifth journalist killed in Bangladesh over the past year, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). A recent report by the IFJ says that 400 reporters received death threats and 320 were tortured in the country over the past 12 months.“Reports of increasing violence and intimidation against journalists in Bangladesh are a cause of grave concern as to the profession’s ability to continue carrying out its important work adequately under such conditions,” Mr. Matsuura said.
More than 70 journalists have been killed on duty in Iraq since the war began three years ago.“Journalists should be granted security and freedom of speech so they can perform their duties,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said, calling on Iraqi security authorities to fully investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators before the law.Prominent journalists killed over the last three weeks include Mohsen Khodeir, editor-in chief of the weekly Alef Baa, Amjad Hamid from Al Iraqia TV and Monsef Al Khaldi reporter at Baghdad Satellite TV.The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), whose mandate includes the defence of freedom of expression and press freedom, also condemned the latest murders.“The level of brutality in Iraq has reached appalling proportions,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement. “It is essential for the consolidation of democracy and rule of law in Iraq that the authorities do all in their power to improve the safety of media professionals in the country.”In the latest of his frequent condemnations of the murder of journalists around the world that he has issued in recent months, Mr. Matsuura today also condemned the murder of a Mexican freelance press photographer shot dead last week in the state of Michoacán.Jaime Arturo Olvera Bravo, a former correspondent for the Morelia-based daily La Voz de Michoacán, was shot by an unknown gunman while waiting for a bus with his five-year-old son. His son was not hurt. Mr Olvera provided photographs and crime tips to local media on a free-lance basis.The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that four Mexican journalists have been killed in direct reprisal for their work in the last five years and that another reporter has been missing since last April and is feared dead.