IFJ Calls for Better Protection of Iraqi Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the latest targeted killings of journalists in Iraq and urged the Iraqi government and US authorities to provide better protection for media staff in the country.

Three journalists in Iraq were killed in the past week and at least one had been threatened before he was killed. These recent killings bring the death toll for journalists and media staff in Iraq to 138. The majority of journalists killed since the start of the war have been Iraqis.

“The death toll for Iraqi journalists is rising at an appalling rate,” said Hayet Zeghiche, Middle East Projects Officer. “Iraqi journalists are being killed with total impunity simply for doing their jobs. These attacks are breaking down human rights and press freedom in the country. There cannot be a successful democracy in Iraq if there is no press freedom.”

Since the start of the war in 2003 the IFJ has been lobbying the Iraqi authorities and the US-led forces to take measures to curb the attacks on journalists. Despite our efforts, the IFJ has seen the safety conditions for journalists deteriorate even further.

On September 9, Abdul Kareem Al Rubai, who worked as a page designer for state-run newspaper Al Sabah, was killed while on his way to work. A colleague who was driving the car they were in was also seriously injured.

Employees at Al Sabah have been threatened in the past for their work at the newspaper and this is the third attack on employees.

On September 13, journalists and union activist Hani Ghannawi was killed near Baqouba. He worked as a freelancer for various Iraqi newspapers and was the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate (IJS) representative.

Journalists Safaa Ismael Inad was also found dead on the 13th near Sadr City in Baghdad. He had disappeared three days earlier. Inad worked for Al Watan, a national newspaper.

The IFJ is calling on the Iraqi government as well as the US government to protect journalists in Iraq.

Separately, the joint Iraqi-US force yesterday released journalist Kelshan Al Bayati, who works for Al Hayat newspaper, after the IJS had pressed for her release.

“We are glad authorities have released Kelshan,” Zeghiche said. “We hope that Iraqi and US forces will focus on capturing those who are attacking journalists and let working journalists do their jobs freely and safely.”

For more information, contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ has more than 500,000 members in over 100 countries worldwide