Reporters Without Borders

Urgent need for parliament to debate protection of journalists bill

Urgent need for parliament to debate protection of journalists bill

Published on Thursday 8 April 2010.
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Reporters Without Borders urges the Iraqi parliament to approve a much-delayed bill for the protection of journalists after several media employees were injured in bombings and other attacks in recent weeks even if they were not necessarily the targets.

“We condemn the indiscriminate violence and bloodshed in which civilians are the victims,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It highlights the urgent need for the Iraqi parliament to begin debating the protection of journalists bill that has been repeatedly postponed since September 2009 as it is crucial for improving working conditions and safety for media personnel in Iraq.”

In one of the latest incidents, Al-Hurra TV correspondent Munir Assa’d survived a murder attempt when gunmen threw a grenade at him in Mosul, the capital of the northwestern Ninawa region, on 5 April, one day after he was attacked by an Iraqi army officer. Assa’d is also the regional representative of a press freedom organisation.

An explosion outside the Iranian embassy in Baghdad on 4 April seriously damaged the offices of the Iraqi journalists union and the satellite TV station Al-Diyar, and injured three journalists.

Three journalists – Baghdad TV correspondent Mo’taz Al-Mashhadani, cameraman Akram Abbas and Al-Hurra TV cameraman Haidar Mohamed – were injured in a double bombing on 29 March in Karbala, 100 km southwest of Baghdad. They had just arrived at the scene of the first explosion when a second bomb went off. Al-Mashhadani was hospitalised in Karbala with serious injuries.

The postponement of the protection of journalists bill was announced last December by the head of the parliamentary commission on culture and information, Mufid Al-Jazayri. Reporters Without Borders wrote to House of Representatives speaker Ayad Al-Samarrai on 22 December saying that, even if the bill would not fully guarantee the independence of Iraqi journalists, its postponement violated the undertakings given by the Iraqi authorities.

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