UNESCO chief condemns killing of Sudanese newspaper editor

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today spoke out against the recent kidnapping and beheading of Sudanese newspaper editor Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed in Khartoum and urged that the perpetrators be brought to justice. “I condemn the brutal murder of Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said. “Freedom of expression is not only a fundamental human right but also a pre-requisite for effective democracy and rule of law.”Voicing shock at the brutality of the crime, he called on the Sudanese authorities “to do all they can to ensure that Mr. Mohammed Taha’s killers are brought to trial.” Mr Mohammed Taha, the 50-year-old editor-in-chief of the privately-owned daily Al-Wifaq, was kidnapped by masked gunmen outside his home on 5 September. Police found his decapitated body the following day. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that Mr. Mohammed Taha was detained for several days in May 2005 and that his paper was closed for three months after he published an article considered blasphemous. Six-months ago, also according to the CPJ, unidentified assailants set fire to the offices of Al-Wifaq, badly damaging the building. Mr. Matsuura has been campaigning against the murders of journalists across the world as part of the agency’s campaign to spotlight threats to press freedom.