ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Aram Sheikh Mohammed on Sunday stated that efforts are being made to restore permissions to Kurdistan 24 after it was banned in October 2017 by the Federal Government of Iraq from operating throughout the country.
“We have discussed this issue with the Committee of Culture and Information in the Iraqi Parliament,” aiming to lift the ban on Kurdistan 24 and allow the news outlet to resume its work in the central and southern provinces of Iraq, especially in Baghdad, Mohammed told Kurdistan 24.
He mentioned that he would continue to pressure Iraq’s executive branch until they lifted the restrictions.
On Oct. 23, 2017, the office of audiovisual media, under the Iraqi federal government’s Media and Communications Commission, issued decree No. 5/9714/A/7 ordering the shutdown of Kurdistan 24’s broadcast and preventing its staff from accessing certain areas in Iraq, confiscating their equipment as well.
The Commission claimed the Kurdish news outlet did not have a license sanctioned by their office and accused Kurdistan 24 of “inciting violence, hate, threatening social peace and security.”
The order came after the Oct. 16 attack and takeover of the oil-rich Kirkuk province and other disputed territories by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia.
Kurdistan 24 Company for Media and Research Ltd is licensed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s Ministry of Culture, which is part of the Iraqi federal government and protected by the Constitution of Iraq.
In response to the ban, Kurdistan 24’s General Manager, Noreldin Waisy, wrote a letter to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urging them to investigate Baghdad’s ban on the network.
“This is a very dangerous development and is undoubtedly an assault on freedom of press and expression as highlighted under human rights charters,” he stated.
“Our staff practices their work with professionalism and in-line with journalism ethics and honesty in its coverage,” the Kurdistan 24 General Manager explained, emphasizing the network is used as a source for local and international media.
In a joint statement in October 2017, the Iraqi Observatory for Press Freedoms in the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate (IJS) and the Metro Center for the Defense of Press Freedom in Kurdistan expressed their concerns about the safety of journalists in the country.
“The media in the country will become a victim of the escalating political crisis between Baghdad and Erbil,” the statement read.
The two organizations also called on Iraqi authorities to “spare satellite channels, radio stations, news agencies, and journalists to be a party to the current crisis.”
Editing by Nadia Riva