The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today reiterated calls for urgent action to protect journalists as the killings of an Iraqi cameraman and a sound technician working for ABC News who were kidnapped and found dead on Friday signalled that 2007 will be another record year for media deaths – with 33 deaths in Iraq already this year.
“These latest killings add to the grim toll that war is taking on media workers in Iraq,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Journalists are a major target for violence, which has led to foreign news media withdrawing from the country and placing an even heavier burden on local journalists to report the news in Iraq.”
On Thursday Cameraman Alaa Uldeen Aziz and soundman Saif Laith Yousuf were abducted after leaving ABC's Baghdad bureau. Their bodies were found the following day.
At least 206 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. The victims have been overwhelmingly Iraqi and they have been attacked in their offices, while on assignment and even in their own neighbourhoods.
Earlier in May, a conference of media leaders and journalists’ unions meeting in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil called for an end to kidnappings, targeted killings and other threats to media and announced the launching of a National Safety Strategy for Media in the war-torn country.
The meeting recommended the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists and the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists and media organisations to establish a national Iraq Media Safety Group by the end of July. Safety offices will be opened in Baghdad and Irbil and a programme of support for media to combat safety threats will be launched.
The IFJ has also condemned a recent government measure that would prohibit journalists from covering bombing sites. Iraqi authorities cited security reasons for the policy but the IFJ fears that this is an attempt to minimize coverage of these attacks and could lead to more government censorship.
“The government must investigate, capture and prosecute those responsible for attacking journalists and bring an end to the widespread impunity that has made journalists a common target for intimidation, kidnapping and murder,” White said. “The goal should be to provide enough safety measures that they can cover any event without fears for their safety, not to limit their activities in any way.”
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide