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UN calls on governments to 'strengthen press freedom' in securing justice for murdered journalists

The UN Secretary General has called on all governments to take action to strengthen press freedom after a journalist was murdered in Europe and another is missing feared dead in Turkey within a week.

Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, 30, was found dead near a river bank in the town of Ruse on Saturday after being brutally raped and murdered, according to local media reports.

Marinova (pictured), who worked for local TV station TVN, was the fourth journalist to be killed in the European Union in just over a year.

Her last aired report had been about the arrest of two investigative reporters, while she had been investigating the possible misuse of European Union funds in Bulgaria.

Unconfirmed reports on Bulgarian national radio today said a suspect described as “a Romanian citizen with a passport from Moldova” has been arrested in connection with the case.

Concerns have also been raised internationally for Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi who went missing and is believed to have been killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

The Turkish foreign ministry has said in a statement today that a search will be carried out of the consulate, with cooperation from Saudi authorities – who deny a murder took place.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has today said that if reports of Khashoggi’s death proved correct, the UK would regard the situation as “serious”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on governments around the world to “strengthen press freedom” and noted in particular a trend of violence against women journalists.

A spokesperson for Guterres said yesterday: “We’re very concerned about a number of recent cases and reports of violence against journalists, including the murder of Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria and the reported disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

“Both publicly and privately the Secretary General has often raised this issue with member states and I think it’s also important to note there’s been a very worrying increase in violence, sexual and otherwise, that’s particularly targeting women journalists.

“The Secretary General’s position is clear. A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all.

“He reiterates his call on all governments to strengthen press freedom including ensuring there is justice and accountability for crimes committed against journalists.”

In a statement posted on social media yesterday, the European Commission condemned the murder of Marinova, saying it had learned of her death with “great sadness”.

“There is no democracy without a free press,” the commission said, adding: “We expect a swift and thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”

The Washington Post has said the US should “demand answers loud and clear” over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

US President Donald Trump subsequently told reporters at the White House yesterday: “I am concerned about that. I don’t like hearing about it and hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now, nobody knows anything about it.”

Trump added: “There’s some pretty bad stories about it. I do not like it.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.”

Picture: Facebook/TVN/Detector

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