Iraqi commission calls for end to violence against journalists, holding perpetrators to account
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Human Rights Commission on Monday called for the protection of journalists and holding the perpetrators of violence to account.
To mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the commission called for “more serious efforts” to support “journalists who have been subjected to intimidation, forced disappearance, and murder.”
The body noted such violent actions “prevent [journalists] from performing their media duties and communicating information to the public.”
The statement also called for “concerted efforts by the security and judicial authorities to pursue investigations into attacks against journalists, prosecute the perpetrators, bring them to justice and end impunity.”
Such efforts would “provide a safe environment that preserves their rights and contributes to fulfilling their role and media mission, consolidating freedom of expression and opinion, and establishing community values that protect human rights.”
Journalists and activists have long been the targets of assassinations by armed groups across Iraq. Since the countrywide protests began late last year, a campaign of violence allegedly spearheaded by members of the Hashd al-Shaabi—a conglomeration of largely Iran-backed militia groups—has resulted in the deaths of at least a dozen activists and journalists.
In July, unidentified shooters suspected to be aligned with the Hashd al-Shaabi gunned down Iraqi terrorism expert Hisham al-Hashimi outside his home in Baghdad. Baghdad has not accused any party after investigations into such cases.
The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) in Iraq also expresses its deep concern about the dangers many journalists face nowadays, especially those who reported on the protests that began on October 1st, 2019, in central and southern Iraq, that continue in some cities to this day.
“During this period, a number of media professionals, journalists, and photographers were murdered, kidnapped, and stalked, while media offices were stormed, their equipment destroyed, and others burned and threatened publicly,” JFO added.
Data compiled by the JFC from 2003 to 2015 alone indicate that 291 Iraqi and foreign media workers have been killed while working, including 164 journalists and 73 technicians and media assistants.