Condemning the killings of journalists in Iraq and Turkey, the head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom today once again stressed the vital role played by the media in establishing democracy and the rule of law. Those murdered in recent days included Hrant Dink, editor of the Turkish Armenian-language weekly Agos, and at least six Iraqi reporters and media workers.“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and press freedom, its corollary, is a cornerstone of democracy and rule of law,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement on Mr. Dink’s killing. “I welcome the speed with which the Turkish authorities investigated this case, proof of their determination not to let this heinous crime go unpunished,” he added.Mr. Matsuura has repeatedly deplored the murder of Iraqi media workers in recent months. “I am horrified by the number of Iraqi journalists who are paying with their lives for their professional commitment to the fundamental human right of freedom of expression,” he said in his latest statement. “Both government officials and media practitioners agree on the essential role of press freedom in the reconstruction of Iraq,” he added, recalling the declaration adopted by participants at the International Conference on Freedom of Expression and Media Development in Iraq, which UNESCO hosted earlier this month.“They also agree on the need to investigate and bring to justice those guilty of crimes against journalists, I now hope that the authorities on the ground will cooperate in making this wish a reality.”The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that Khudr Younis al-Obaidi, a reporter for the Al-Diuwan newspaper, was killed by unknown gunmen on 15 January in Mosul, in the north of Iraq.According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), several employees of the governmental daily Al Sabah were killed from 12 to 16 January. Two, whose names have not been revealed, were kidnapped from the Al Sabah’s offices in Baghdad on 12 January and found with their throats cut the next day. Yassin Aid Assef, a correspondent for the daily, was killed by a bomb on 14 January while covering a story in Baghdad. The next day journalist Falah Khalaf Al Diyali was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.According to RSF’s tally, 146 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the United States-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003. 22 January 2007Condemning the killings of journalists in Iraq and Turkey, the head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom today once again stressed the vital role played by the media in establishing democracy and the rule of law.