IFJ Report Highlights Middle East Press Freedom Crisis

The International Federation of Journalists’ World Congress in Moscow has launched a detailed report on the problems facing media and journalists in the Middle East with a call for an end to targeting of journalists and reform of legal regimes that are a barrier to press freedom in the region.

Threats of violence, continuing regional conflict and outdated laws have created a dangerous environment for all journalists in the Arab World and Iran, says the IFJ.

“It’s time to break the cycle of violence and routine intimidation that makes peaceful and democratic reform almost impossible in the region,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, in Moscow where journalists’ leaders from more than 100 countries have gathered for this week’s Congress.

The IFJ says the Middle East has in recent years become the most dangerous and threatening region in the world for journalism:

• More journalists have been killed in Iraq than in any other conflict in recent history

• Journalists and media in Palestine face the constant threat of kidnapping and violence

• Reporters, writers and cartoonists have been jailed for their work

• In almost all countries laws still criminalise the work of journalists

The IFJ’s detailed report – Breaking the Chains – which was presented to delegates on May 30th, reveals, country by country, the scale of problems facing journalists and exposes how entrenched are the legal obstacles to free journalism in the region. In many countries, internal political battles are used as smokescreens by governments’ crackdown on media.

The IFJ is calling for general decriminalisation of press offences, is demanding that kidnappings and acts of violence against media are ended, and is calling on all governments to eliminate imprisonment as possible sanction against journalists.

“Journalists in the region are saying enough is enough,” said Aidan White. “There must be an end to the culture of intimidation which has stunted the growth of democracy and press freedom. Without urgent reform and the creation of open societies millions of people from the Maghreb to the Persian Gulf will continue to be denied a peaceful and prosperous future.”

You can read the report in English or in Arabic.

For more information contact the IFJ at its Congress in Moscow at
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide.