IFJ Calls on European Council to Expose “Scandal of Impunity” in Killings of Journalists and Media Staff

On the eve of the European Council Summit in Brussels, the International Federation of Journalists today called on the European Union to expose the “scandal of impunity” in the killing of journalists and media staff.

“Three years after the war in Iraq began more than 100 journalists and media staff have lost their lives,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “And in many of these cases we still do not have concrete answers to hard questions about who is responsible and what happened”.

Tomorrow on the opening of the European Council summit, the IFJ, the International Press Association (API) and Fabienne Nérac, the wife of a French journalist missing in Iraq, will deliver a statement to the Austrian Presidency, calling for the member states of the European Union to use their influence, individually and collectively, to expose the scandal of impunity in the killing of journalists and media staff.

The IFJ says that the war in Iraq has become the deadliest for the press since the end of World War II with a total of at least 113 journalists and media staff killed since the conflict began on 19 March 2003. A total of 9 Iraqi journalists have been killed so far this year.

Among the long list of colleagues who have sacrificed their lives in the defense of free expression lies the still unresolved case of French cameraman Fred Nérac, who went missing in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on 22 March 2003, when he was apparently killed in an exchange of shots between Iraqi and US soldiers.

“Fred’s case points to the bitter reality of a family without closure and a scandal of impunity surrounding our profession,” said White. “We are calling for renewed efforts by the Governments of France, Britain and the United States to provide more information on these questions and, by so doing, to assist Fred Nérac’s wife, Fabienne and her children to understand and to come to terms with the circumstances.

ITN reporter Terry Lloyd, 51, died in the attack and Belgian cameraman Daniel Demoustier was wounded. After the incident, both Nérac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman, were listed as missing. Finally, Osman’s remains were identified by DNA testing in June 2004. Fred Nérac’s body has still not been found nor have the exact circumstances surrounding his death been established.

For further information contact the IFJ: +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries

More Information:

Justice for Journalists Killed in Iraq - 08/04/2004

IFJ Report - Justice Denied on the Road to Baghdad - 14/10/2003

World Journalists Demand Justice as US Gunship Attack on TV Reporter is Exposed - 13/09/2003

IFJ Demands Full Inquiry Into Allied Fire That Led to Death of ITN Reporter - 23/03/2003