IFJ Welcomes Unified Approach as Iraqi Journalists Get Organised (See Arabic Version)

The International Federation of Journalists today welcomed moves by Iraqi journalists to establish a unified journalists’ movement in the country that brings together editors and reporters from all communities.

Iraqi journalists’ have established an Iraqi National Journalists’ Advisory Panel, made up of 26 editors, senior journalists and representatives of journalists’ groups calling for press freedom and rights at work the group will represent journalists in discussions with the new Baghdad government over media regulations.

“This is a courageous and historic effort by journalists coming from all communities to put aside differences and to concentrate on the need for solidarity and professionalism in building a new journalistic landscape,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “In recognition of this effort, the IFJ is opening an Iraq office for its journalism programme. We call on all journalists’ unions and associations around the world to support their Iraqi colleagues in the difficult days ahead.”

The top priority for the Iraqi Journalists Advisory Panel (INJAP), which includes representatives of a newly-formed Iraqi Press Union, progressive elements from the former Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists, and representatives of the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate, will be safety and security of journalists.

On Friday, the second anniversary of the United States military attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad in which two journalists were killed, Iraqi journalists will join other journalists’ unions around the world, in an international protest over impunity in the killing of journalists with calls on the US for independent investigation of 14 deaths of media staff at the hands of US soldiers in Iraq since the invasion.

‘The first and essential step is the creation of a safe and secure working environment for journalists,” said White. “The INJAP has already produced a detailed safety handbook in Arabic for media staff and is supporting safety training for all Iraqi journalists. Now the authorities must do more to ensure the safety of all media staff.”

The new group held its first meeting in December in Amman and has now developed its own web-site and programme of activity. It is carrying out a survey of journalists’ needs, has issued calls for guarantees of editorial independence and wants rules to prevent political interference in the work of media.

“Journalists not only report on the Iraq crisis, they are very much its victims,” said White. “They need a completely new approach to reduce the level of pressure on media from political and social forces and to help build a democratic media culture based upon justice at work and professionalism in reporting.”

To read the version in Arabic click on the following pdf link : Iraq Version

IFJ Iraq Project Website

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