IFJ Backs Geneva Declaration on Kidnapping and Killing of Journalists in Iraq

The International Federation of Journalists today joined with other human rights and journalists`groups meeting in Geneva in a strong protest over the abduction and killing of journalists and others and the murderous activity of criminal gangs in Iraq.

In a statement sent to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the groups said the latest horrifying acts, the beheading of Enzo Baldoni and Eugene Armstrong, were heinous, criminal and cowardly acts and they called for the immediate release of the kidnapped journalists Christian Chesnot and George Malbrunot and their driver Mohammed al-Joundi.

"Iraq is at the outer limits of lawlessness," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, "and it is journalists and those who work with them who are prominent among the victims."

The meeting, which for the last two days has debated strategies for reinforcing the protection of journalists, was joined by a representative of the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists who said local journalists were defiant in the face of intimidation and pressure.

"More must be done to help our colleagues,” said White. "But the first priority is for military, paramilitary and non state groups in Iraq to respect humanitarian international law and to renounce all acts of terrorism including the abduction of journalists and other civilians."

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries