The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the death of journalist Jamal Ahmed Al-Sharabi, who was killed when gunmen opened fire on protesters in the Yemeni capital, Sana`a, last week.
A number of other people were also killed and dozens injured in the crackdown against the demonstrators on 18 March, the agency said in a news release. According to the International Press Institute (IPI), Mr. Al-Sharabi was covering the demonstration for the Al-Masdar independent newspaper.
The killing of Jamal Ahmed al-Sharabi is an attack against the basic human right of the people of Yemen to freedom of expression, " stated UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
It is the duty of the authorities to ensure that journalists are able to carry out their professional duties in the safest possible conditions. It is also their duty to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of this death " which occurred during a confrontation that also tragically cost many other lives " and bring the perpetrators to justice. "
Earlier this week, the UN human rights office voiced alarm about the situation in Yemen, where a state of emergency has been declared and armed clashes between security forces and protesters continue.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) deplored the reported killing of dozens of peaceful protestors last week, including reportedly by snipers shooting from rooftops, and stressed that all violations of human rights must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
It also expressed concern about the suppression of the right to freedom of expression in the region, including the Yemeni Government`s decision to deport two Al Jazeera correspondents on 19 March.
Yemen is among several countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are witnessing demonstrations calling for democratic reforms. Similar protests have already led to the ouster of long-serving leaders in Tunisia and Egypt in January and February, while in Libya Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi is waging a fierce military offensive against the opposition there.