Iraq: International organisations call on authorities to protect freedom of speech

The International Federation of Journalists has joined a coalition of international organisations to call on the prime minister of Iraq, Mr. Adil Abdul-Mahdi, to ensure the safety of media workers during the demonstrations taking place across the country.

Iraqi protesters burn tyres during a demonstration against state corruption, failing public services, and unemployment, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on October 5, 2019. Photo credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP

Joint statement:

Since the first of October, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to express their discontent with the Iraqi authorities. The resulting violence - including from the Iraqi security services - has already led to the deaths of more than 100 protesters, with thousands injured (according to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission). Furthermore - in direct violation of article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Iraqi media are increasingly being targeted by government-sanctioned internet shutdowns, which are now commonplace strategies to curb the media's ability to report freely.

As of today, the Iraqi national mechanism for monitoring attacks against journalists - supported by UNESCO - has confirmed the following incidents:

  • 26 attacks against journalists and 14 cases where media outlets were prevented from covering events in Baghdad and the provinces
  • Forced closure of 3 satellite channels by orders of the National Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (CMC)
  • Raids by unidentified armed groups into 4 TV offices, causing serious property damage

The undersigned organizations would like to express their grave concern about these developments, and request the Iraqi prime minister to immediately enact appropriate measures to guarantee the ability of media workers to pursue their profession.

International Federation of Journalists

CFI, Media development

Free Press Unlimited

International Media Support

Media in Cooperation and Transition

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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