The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomed the Iraqi government's investigation into the recent killing of four employees of Iraqi satellite TV channel Al Sharqiya in Mosul but said that authorities must investigate all unsolved killings, including the assassination of Iraqi union president Shihab Al-Timimi, if they want to ensure press freedom in the country.
"This terrible case illustrates the grave dangers Iraqi journalists still face," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "We welcome the Prime Minister's announcement of an investigation into these deaths but we cannot forget the scores of Iraqi colleagues who were killed with impunity, including journalist leader Shihab Al-Timimi."
The IFJ has worked with both Iraqi journalist unions, the IUJ and the Kurdish Journalists' Syndicate, to lobby the government to improve journalist safety and prosecute those attacking media.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday ordered security forces, including the head of Mosul's police force, to find those responsible for the killing of Al Sharqiya's chief Mosul correspondent Musab Mahmoud al-Azawi, cameramen Ahmed Salim and Ihab Ma'ad and driver Kidar Suleman. Their bodies were found on Saturday close to where they had been filming a program about Ramadan.
Five suspects have been arrested in the case.
The IFJ said that while it is heartened by the swift investigation into this killing, it is concerned by the lack of success in other cases of killed journalists, including the assassination of Shihab Al-Timimi, the president of the Iraqi Union of Journalists (IUJ) in Baghdad.
Al-Timimi, 75, died in hospital in February, days after his car was hit by a hail of bullets in a targeted attack following a meeting of the union leadership in Baghdad.
According to the Iraq Journalists Union at least 290 media workers have been killed in Iraq since 2003.
"These attacks have taken a grim toll on our courageous Iraqi colleagues and on press freedom in Iraq," White said. "Press freedom cannot exist when journalists are forced to work in such dangerous conditions."
IUJ President Moaid Al Lami also condemned the "bullets targeting journalism" and called on security forces "to increase the level of protection for media workers and for the adoption of a new journalist protection law." He also called on media organisations to do more to protect their own journalists.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide