The International Federation of Journalists today joined broadcasters in protesting over "unacceptable discrimination" and restrictions being imposed on journalists covering the war in Iraq when they are not travelling with army units of the United States or Britain.
Reports from journalists in Southern Iraq say that media staff who are not part of the so-called "embedded" group of reporters travelling under the official protection of the military are being forcibly removed.
"This is unacceptable discrimination against independent journalism at a time when the pace of war is quickening and reporters are striving to bring millions of people coverage from the front lines," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.
The IFJ says that military control of the media is unacceptable. The Federation is supporting the protests of individual broadcasters and the European Broadcasting Union, which today condemned the actions of the US military, saying it was apparently directed against so-called "unilateral" journalists working around the battlefronts who are not assigned to specific army units.
The IFJ is particularly concerned at reports that the military forces are singling out groups of journalists who are from countries that are not part of the coalition in support of the war.
The IFJ estimates that around 3,000 journalists are working in the region, with only about 600 officially travelling with the armed forces. The Federation says that journalists will not tolerate military attempts to stop them from working and that could lead some of them to take more risks.
"We already have a number of journalists who are casualties," said White, "and there may be more dangers ahead if journalists have to find ways of circumventing attempts to stop them from working." The IFJ says four journalists have died, a dozen injured and some are still missing.