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UNESCO chief voices ‘deep concern’ over continued killing of journalists in Syria

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today voiced deep concern over the killing of both professional and citizen journalists in Syria.

“I am deeply concerned about the continued killings that have decimated the ranks of professional and citizen journalists in Syria in recent weeks,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.

“The killing of journalists and bloggers is not only a crime against individuals and a breach of their inalienable human right of freedom of expression. It is also a crime against society’s right to access information and engage in democratic debate,” Ms. Bokova added in a UNESCO news release.

Her comments follow the violent deaths of eight journalists since late November: newspaper editor Naji Assaad; TV reporter Bassel Tawfiq Youssef and others.

Mr. Assaad, a retired journalist who continued working for government-run newspaper Tishreen was shot dead outside his home in the capital, Damascus, on 4 December, and Mr. Tawfiq Youssef, a Government television journalist, was killed on 21 November in a Damascus suburb, according to UNESCO.