IFJ Backs Media Reform as Journalists Are Targeted in Middle East Uprising

The

International Federation (IFJ) today called for media reforms and respect of

press freedom as journalists have come under fire over coverage of anti-governments

protests sweeping through the Arab world and the Middle East.

The call

follows reports of bans on free movement of journalists and new attacks on

media in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Iraq Kurdistan. The authorities have imposed

a media crackdown and are curtailing internet access to try to limit the spread

of information about the current unrest. The IFJ warns that the increasingly

belligerent anti-media rhetoric of the region's embattled leaders is likely to

further endanger the safety of journalists.

"Journalists

are in the firing line as repressive regimes turn to desperate measures to try

to save themselves," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "We are backing

journalists who are fighting for their rights and we condemn the inflammatory

attacks of unscrupulous politicians which can expose our colleagues to mob

violence."

According to media

reports some foreign journalists have been refused entry to Bahrain and Libya while

their colleagues inside these countries have come under targeted attack. In

Bahrain last week journalist Michael Slackman and cameraman Sean Patrick Farreall

were shot at by police in a helicopter as they filmed protests in Pearl Square.



The situation

is believed to be worse in Libya. According to the French newspaper Le Monde the authorities have accused

foreign journalists who managed to enter the country of having links with the

terrorist group Al Qaeda. President Ghaddafi fuelled the hostility when he used

insulting language in a brief television appearance on Monday, labelling

journalists who reported on his alleged flight into exile as ‘dogs'.

Meanwhile,

there are fears for the safety of a leading Libyan and Aljazeera correspondent

in Libya, Atef al-Atrash, who has been missing since 17 February following his

report on the revolt in Bengazi, the country's second largest city, said the

Qatar-based cable news channel which says its signal in the country has been

jammed. There are also reports of protesters attacking government media.

The IFJ has

welcomed the decision of Yemeni authorities ordering security forces to protect

protesters and is asking the government to extend the protection to journalists,

many of whom have been victims of violence since the start of the anti-government

demonstrations.

"Everyone must

be protected and particularly journalists who are reporting from the frontline

of these events," added White. "It is time to end the intimidation campaign

against Yemeni journalists."

Elsewhere in

the region, the IFJ is concerned over an attack on Naliya Radio Television

(NRT), in Iraq, an independent television network operating in the country's autonomous

region of Kurdistan. An angry crowd besieged the station on Sunday over

reporting on demonstrations in Sulymaniya, according to press reports.

"Everywhere we

look, we see journalists in the eye of the storm across the region," added

White. "They need support, they need protection and they need to be able to

work in a reformed media environment which respects press freedom and their

rights. It's time for change on all fronts, but particularly in media."

For more

information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 members in 125 countries