The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the brutal murder of Iraqi cameraman Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, who was shot by insurgents who saw him filming their firefight with police.
“This latest killing is a chilling and brutal example of the vulnerability of journalists in Iraq,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Insurgents now feel that they can kill a cameraman in broad daylight in front of police officers. We are calling on Iraqi law enforcement to bring Aswan’s killers to justice and to fulfil their duty to protect civilians, including journalists.”
Lutfallah, 35, worked for the Associated Press (AP). According to the news agency, earlier today, insurgents saw Lutfallah filming, approached him and shot and killed him.
He is at least the 163rd media worker killed since start of the war in Iraq three years ago. Violence has escalated in the country and, with that escalation, journalist deaths rose sharply this year.
At least sixty-two journalists and media staff have died there in 2006, most of them in targeted attacks. Thirty-five journalists and media staff were killed in Iraq in 2005.
“The death toll is mounting in Iraq and Iraqi journalists are being targeted and killed at an appalling rate,” White said. “Every attack on media staff is not just an attack on an individual but an attack on freedom of the press and democracy. In any conflict situation, journalists must be protected.”
The IFJ welcomed last week a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that condemns all attacks targeting journalists and media workers in armed conflicts. The resolution, if adopted, would say that, due to the existing prohibitions in international humanitarian law, attacks intentionally directed against journalists covering armed conflicts are war crimes.
Lutfallah, who was in the northern city of Mosul, was having his car repaired in an industrial area in the eastern part of the city when insurgents and police began fighting nearby and he rushed to cover the clash, AP said. Lutfallah had not reported any prior threats against him.
Lutfallah is the second Iraqi journalist to be shot in December. On 4 December Nabil Ibrahim al-Dulaimi, 36, a news editor for privately owned Radio Dijla, was shot shortly after he left his home in Baghdad's al-Washash neighborhood.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide