Global journalists’ and news safety leaders today welcomed the launch of an Iraq-based campaign aiming to stem the tide of violence against news media which has claimed the lives of 226 journalists and media staff since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International News Safety Institute (INSI) are calling on governments and aid agencies to give their full support to the Iraqi Media Safety Group (IMSG), which will be launched on Saturday in the Iraqi Parliament buildings in Baghdad.
The safety group has been formed by a coalition of the two Iraqi journalists’ syndicates and media organisations including Al Iraqiya Satellite TV, Al Sumariya Satellite TV, Al Diyaar Satellite TV, Al Fourat Satellite TV, Al Baghdadiya Satellite TV.
“This launch is a massive step forward in the fight for improved safety in Iraq,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary and INSI Director Rodney Pinder in a joint statement. “International support for safety-related work in the media sector which is urgently needed should be channelled through the safety group.”
The IFJ and INSI are also calling on the Iraqi government to actively support the group.
“Politicians can start by delivering on the promise made by Prime Minister Maliki earlier this year for a new law to protect Iraqi journalists,” said White and Pinder who congratulated Iraqi media groups in creating a “home grown and broadly based movement” which aims to protect journalists and media staff from all communities.
The IMSG is an initiative led by the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists and the Kurdish Syndicate of Journalists, which was agreed in a meeting with media organisations sponsored by the IFJ and INSI in Irbil earlier this year
The group’s work is being directed from a safety office established in Baghdad, which is aiming to develop high-profile connections with government officials and media owners in the area of security for journalists. Currently they are developing the web site for the group (www.iraqmsg.org) in Arabic and English and working on the database of killings, kidnappings and attacks on journalists.
The group has mapped out a programme of seminars, training and safety initiatives to raise awareness among journalists and media across the country. It is calling on all Iraqi media organisations to join the campaign and plans a series of meetings between media owners and government officials to establish a mechanism to deal with death threats against journalists.
The formal launch of the group takes place in the conference hall in the Iraqi Parliament building with some MPs and other government officials in attendance.
For more information contact:
IFJ INSI IMSG
Rachel Cohen Sarah deJong Nabel J. Mohammad
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