The International Federation of Journalists today marked the anniversary of the first media killings in the Iraq war with a fresh call for the United States to come clean about what happened in a number of incidents in which journalists and media staff were killed.
A year ago, on 22 March, Australian journalist Paul Moran died in northern Iraq after a checkpoint bombing. On the same day, just outside Basra, a television team was shot up in a crossfire incident which, according to a media investigation aired last night on ITV, remains unexplained and where vital information is still being held by the United States.
The killing of ITN journalist Terry Lloyd on 22 March 2003 when his team was fired upon by US and Iraqi forces shocked the media world, but questions remain, not least over the fate of Lloyd’s colleagues Fred Nérac and Hussein Osman, who were also caught up in the incident, but who have never been found.
“The investigation by media to find out what happened to Nérac and Osman has come up against a bureaucratic brick wall,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The United States must come clean about what happened and allow its soldiers to be questioned. If not, the families, friends and colleagues of the missing men must live with the haunting and tragic consequences of not knowing the truth amidst suspicion of a cover-up.”
ITN journalists, frustrated by months of delay on the part of British and American troops to investigate the shootings, sent a team to Basra to talk to those involved. They met with some of the Iraqis involved and talked to US journalists who were on the spot, who complained that US troops barred them from access to the vehicles involved, including marked television cars, without any apparent justification.
The next day the vehicles were still there, but there were no bodies or any sign of the missing media men and no official explanation about their fate. Nothing has been heard of them since.
“The British are still investigating this case, but the US authorities have tried to close the case without answering serious questions about what really happened,” said White. “The US should reopen the case or make its personnel concerned available for questioning by British investigators.”
Concern over the Basra case and US attacks on the Palestine Hotel media centre in Baghdad, on the Baghdad offices of Al-Jazeera, and the cursory report on the killing at the hands of US troops of Reuters Cameraman Mazen Dana during the war and immediately afterwards, have prompted the IFJ to call an international day of mourning and protest over the media deaths on 8 April. At the same time two killings of Al-Arabiya journalists by US troops in a clearly marked television vehicle last week has raised fresh concerns of military impunity over media casualties.
SIGN THE IFJ PETITION
Robert Shaw - IFJ Human Rights and Information Officer
Tel: + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries