Saturday, November 28, 2009

Philippines: Call for full investigation into Philippines massacre

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova urged the Government of the Philippines to carry out a full and swift investigation into a murderous attack on a convoy in the Minguindanao Province on 23 November, in which more than 55 people, including at least 27 journalists, were killed.

"This monstrous crime must not go unpunished," Ms Bokova said. "I condemn this outrage and urge the Government of the Philippines to act swiftly, using all the resources at its disposal to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The barbaric killings of the people in the convoy – journalists and citizens alike – were clearly an attack against democracy and democratic processes. Furthermore, the killing of journalists violates the rights of the Philippine people to be freely and fairly informed of political developments."

According to news reports, the journalists were travelling with politicians and political supporters to file nomination papers for a gubernatorial candidate in Maguindanao Province in the southern Philippines, when the convoy was ambushed.

Their deaths bring to 34 the number of journalists killed in the Philippines this year.

UNESCO is the only 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 purpose the Organization is required 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…"

Source: UNESCO

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