IFJ Calls on Iraqi Government to Guarantee Safety of Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has demanded urgent action from the Iraqi government following an attack on the office of independent newspaper, Al-sabah al-jadeed, in the early hours of Monday morning, 10 February.

According to reports, windows, furniture and equipment were damaged when a bomb went off at 4.30am at the front of the newspaper's building in Baghdad. Another two bombs were dismantled. No one was injured as the newspaper was deserted for the night.

"We condemn this use of violence against the offices of a respected newspaper in Baghdad which shows the risks our colleagues in Iraq continue to face on a daily basis," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We call on the government in Iraq to take swift action to bring those people who are behind the attacks to justice".

Reports say the attack follows a campaign that demanded the closure of the paper after it published its weekly supplement Zad last Thursday. The supplement focused on the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the cover featured a portrait of Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei. The newspaper has produced hundreds of portraits of political and religious figures, from Iraqi president Jalal Talabani to Nelson Mandela.

The day after publishing the portrait, the newspaper issued an explanation on its front page which said it did not mean to insult Ali Khamanei, and its intention was to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

As violence in the country continues to escalate, the IFJ has reiterated its appeal for the Iraqi government to introduce genuine measures that will protect the safety of journalists and effectively investigate violent attacks against the media.

"We repeat our appeal for the Iraqi government to step up protection for media staff in the country who continue to be attacked for doing their jobs," said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. "And we also reiterate our call for the government to set up a special task force with the resources to carry out thorough and independent investigations into these brutal attacks against the media."

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries