Iraqi Journalists Call for Government Backing Over Charter of Media Rights

Delegates representing journalists from around Iraq have agreed the key points in a new charter of rights for journalists and media and are calling on the new government in Baghdad to take action to protect journalists and to give priority to policies that will strengthen the freedom of media.

A conference of Iraqi journalists, editors and media experts, meeting in Egypt on Saturday, adopted a draft text for a Charter of rights that will be discussed further within Iraqi media and which will then be converted into specific demands for laws that will strengthen journalists’ rights.

The meeting, organised by the International Federation of Journalists in co-operation with UNESCO, was supported by the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate and was attended by journalists and experts from around the country.

A draft charter covering fundamental rights, editorial and ethical independence, the need for pluralism and open government, and basic demands for improved working conditions, was discussed and will now be finalized in meetings throughout the country.

The meeting agreed that the urgent priority was to convert these aspirations into concrete proposals for action that will be put before the new parliament.

The meeting also considered actions to create independent media monitoring bodies, a transparent process of media regulation and the need for positive actions to promote gender equality.

“There were many issues on the table,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, “but in the end none was more important than the need to create safe and secure working conditions and to end the killings of journalists and media staff. Eliminating all threats of violence and ending the security crisis is the top priority.”

The IFJ has carried out an extensive programme of work in Iraq over the past three years, he said, and now it was time to develop a strategic approach that will take journalism beyond the crisis conditions that prevail in the country. “In the coming weeks we shall consider further steps in close collaboration with Iraqi colleagues,” he said.

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