UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today denounced the killing of radio station director and journalist, Luis Carlos Cervantes, on 12 August in Tarazá, in northwestern Colombia. Mr Cervantes was shot dead by three unidentified gunmen.
“I condemn the murder of Luis Carlos Cervantes in the strongest terms, and call on the Colombian authorities to do everything possible to bring the authors of this crime to justice,” the Director-General said. “The killing of a journalist is not only a terrible crime against an individual—it is a threat to whole societies, and their right to information and freedom of expression.”
Luis Carlos Cervantes reported on organized crime and corruption and had already been subject to numerous death threats. He was granted a police bodyguard in June 2012 by the National Protection Unit (UNP), a government body that protects journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers who are threatened in connection with their work. Reportedly considering he was no longer in danger, the UNP withdrew its protection two weeks ago.
The Director-General issues statements on the killing of media professionals in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
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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…”