Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association said that 235 journalists suffered violations in 2015 in Iraq.
The Legal milieu for the Iraqi media is still unclear, which is covered with greater ambiguities, while the Publications and Media Court is depending on dangerous legal clauses that contravene with the Iraqi Constitution, that covered the freedom of press and freedom of expression.
The Iraqi journalists, despite their sufferings from different threats, are still under the limits of Iraqi Punishment Law, which the Media Court is still depending on its clauses in cases against the journalists and media organs, which published articles on the corruption that covered most of the Iraqi establishments” said Ibrahim Al-Sragey, the director of IJRDA in Baghdad.
What undermines the Publications and Media Court that it has no law of its own that will provide the greater limits for the protection of journalists, preventing the jailing of the journalists and activating the complaints against the journalistic media due to publications or practicing press work, IJRDA reports.
The media circles were stunned by the decision of the said court (Order 421 of 17 December, 2015) to arrest journalists Ahmed Abdul Wahid (Director of Asia TV Channel) and Nahi Mehdi (Programme Announcer) for broadcasting programmes related to the corruption in the governmental institutions, according to Clause 434 of Iraqi Punishment Law No. 111 of 1969, as amended.
Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association (IJRDA) regarded this arrest as an attempt to limit the freedom of press and the freedom of expression, as well as an attempt to silence the voices that want to practice their constitutional right (Article 38) of the Iraqi Constitution that guaranteed the freedom of press and expression.
The Media Family is patiently awaiting the endorsement of the Iraqi Parliament for the Right to Get the Information Law, which was presented by IJRDA and read only once. This Law, if adopted, will contribute in many issues that will be in the service of the journalists in getting the information.
IJRDA received greater number of complaints and court cases against the journalists and media institutions for publishing articles or press reports that criticized the work of the governmental departments, with compensation demands that reached skyrocketing figures.
Al-Nahar daily is paying monthly amounts to Parliament Speaker Usama al-Nujaifi for a case filed against the paper by Nujaifi for publishing news criticizing Nujaifi’s statements.
On the other hand, Minister of Transport Baqir Soulagh al-Zubaidi filed an official case against the said paper for publishing reports on the work of the ministry itself.
Editor-in-Chief of al-Nahar daily informed IJRDA that he received threats from party quarters. The Publications and Media Court used to issue arrest warrant against the accused journalists by some influential circles, which is illegal and has no foundations.
Seemingly the US Invasion to Iraq didn’t cause any change other then pain to Iraqi people, whose more than half a million of them were slaughtered by the foreign invasion bombs, which aimed democracy.
“The ex-regime laws are still used that resulted in judging and putting to account the Iraqi journalists for expressing opinions or publications, particularly the usage of legal clauses in cases of defamation and slander mentioned in the Iraqi Punishment Law No. 111 of 1969, as amended,” added IJRDA director.
The journalists are judged under the legal articles of 81, 82, 83, 84, 202, 2010, 2011, 2015, 226, 227, 403, 433 and 434 of the Iraqi Punishment Law. These articles give the right to sue the journalists and press media, which means limiting the scopes of publication and expression that form a direct and avowed threat against the journalists.
IJRDA expressed its grave concern for the escalation of violence against the journalists in Iraq, where the criminal Da’ish (ISIS) organization was at the forefront for committing crimes against the journalists in most of the Iraqi provinces.
31 journalists were killed by Da’ish organization and unknown armed groups during 2015, while the fate of 10 journalists is still unknown till now.
Informed sources told IJRDA that no news was reported on their fate or the possibility of detecting them. Tens of journalists left Nineveh and Anbar provinces due to the control of Da’ish organization, as well as issuing orders to arrest any journalist in these two provinces.
Da’ish organization charged the journalists with providing news and information to “anti-Da’ish media organs”.
Also, tens of Iraqi journalists migrated abroad, where most of them live in hard and complicated humanitarian conditions. Some of them are still stuck in collective camps in the light of the absence of governmental follow-up for their conditions or assisting them.
On the other hand, Basra security forces failed to capture the culprits in kidnapping and killing journalist Sayab Majid, who was kidnapped on 9 March, 2015, whose body was found after hours of his kidnapping.
It seemed that the police did not open the official investigation in this incident and registered it under “unknown criminals”, which manner used by the police to end aggression and killing operations against the journalists.
The fleeing from punishment encouraged committing crimes against the journalist in the last years.
The incident that took place at the National Security Commission, on 18 February, 2015, resulted in attacking some journalists by the bodyguards of the Commission, where some of the journalists were gravely injured. The police sources ignored the investigation and the culprits fled punishment. In other words, the case was closed.
IJRDA monitored, during 2015, that about 235 journalists were victims for the gravest violations that ranged from beating, detention, confiscating equipment, preventing from covering news, arrests, threats, defamation, assassinations to kidnapping. Most of them were working in TV stations.
The current financial crisis in Iraq shed its shadows on the Iraqi media, where the Association monitored the arbitrary expulsion of greater number of journalists who worked in these institutions to reduce the costs. A number of media offices were either reduced or closed by the financers.
The independent media organs, also, suffered for the lack of advertisements, which are regarded the main financier for such institutions due to the current financial crisis waged by the governmental departments.
IJIRDA registered the decline in training levels of the journalists and correspondents, particularly those who covered the current war in hot areas. A great number of photographers and war correspondents did not have any training in personal safety or other specialized training, to the extent that some of them do not have the suitable equipment such the life jacket and helmets.
FOR THE YEAR TO COME, WE ONLY HOPE FOR A BETTER LUCK, AS THE POLITICS IS HELPLESS AND HOPELESS! — THEFrontliner.net