Tag Archives: Iraq

Iran and Cuba tops for exiled journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists released a study today about the number of journalists who are in exile because of the repressive nature of their home countries.

The CPJ survey was released  to mark World Refugee Day, June 20.

Given the number of refugees around the United States, it strikes me that this is a perfect hook for LOCAL news organizations to do stories about the LOCAL impact of refugees in their areas. But for now, let’s focus on the CPJ report.

About 70 journalists have been forced into exile because of repressive government policies. More than half of the exiles came from Iran and Cuba.

“I feel unstable because there is nothing for us here,” said Cuban reporter Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, 59, who served more than seven years in prison on baseless charges before being freed last September and forced into exile in Spain. There, he has experienced significant professional and economic challenges, a common experience among the 67 journalists forced into exile worldwide in the past 12 months. “We don’t even have our professional titles,” Arroyo Carmona said. “We live in limbo.”

The CPJ examined cases between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 1011. The organization only recorded cases it could document. In its statement June 20, the CPJ said other groups may use other criteria to come up with higher numbers of exiled journalists.

For its part, Iran topped the list of countries driving journalists into exile for the second consecutive year as the government continued an assault on free expression that began with the disputed 2009 election. CPJ’s 2010 survey found at least 29 Iranian editors, reporters, and photographers had fled into exile; the country’s total exodus over the last decade is 66, behind only Ethiopia and Somalia.

According to the CPJ study, the leading cause journalists fled their home countries was imprisonment or the threat being jailed. The survey only counted journalists who fled

  • because of work-related persecution,
  • who remained in exile for at least three months, and
  • whose current whereabouts and activities are known.

It does not include those who left their countries for professional or financial opportunities, who left due to general violence in society, or those targeted for non-journalism related activities, such as political activism.

1 Comment

Filed under Connections, Harassment, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Latest journalists killings: Brazil and Iraq

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, condemned the recent killings of journalists in Brazil and Iraq.

The dangers to journalists in Iraq go beyond just being caught in a war zone.  Iraqi television executive Taha Hameed was shot down with Iraqi human rights activist Abed Farhan Thiyab while driving in the south of Baghdad on 8 April.

Brazilian journalists face danger from exposing the cozy relationships between criminal elements and local governments.

The latest victim was radio and television journalist Luciano Leitão Pedrosa. He was known for his critical coverage of local authorities and criminal groups and received frequent threats. Pedrosa was shot in a restaurant in Vitória de Santo Antão in north-eastern Pernambuco state.

So far this year 14 journalists world wide have been killed because they were doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reporters Without Borders puts the number at 16.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Killings

Of computers, corruption and free press

In cleaning up some articles I saved for reference, I came across one from the Sept. 25 New York Times — U.S. Gift for Iraqis Offers a Primer on Corruption.

Simply put the article looked at the theft of 8,000 computers from the United States  destined for school children in Iraq, most likely by government officials in Iraq.

I held on to the article for a few reasons, not the least was the corruption angle and the lackluster response of the U.S. embassy to the situation.

But for purposes here, the events laid out in the article provide another example of the importance of free and independent news media.

Author of the article Steven Lee Myers points out in the third to last graf:

Today’s Iraq may be corrupt, saddled with a bureaucracy from Saddam Hussein’s era that has changed little, and hobbled by a political impasse that has blocked the formation of a new government nearly seven months after parliamentary elections. But Iraqis — the media, politicians, average citizens — are freer than ever to denounce the wrongdoing of bureaucrats and thieves, even if to little effect.

It is that last sentence that tells the whole story of how to fight corruption. Freedom of press, speech and assembly are vital to keeping a government honest.

For now the Iraqis may be feeling that their complaints have “little effect” when it comes to corruption. But if the Iraqi media stand up against corruption by relentlessly investigating it and reporting it, then they might see some changes.

It really is no surprise that the 10 most repressive governments in the world are also among the list of top 10 corrupt governments. A free press is the best hope for people looking for accountability in their governments. And that is why dictators from Beijing to Tehran to Havana fear a free press.

See New corruption list out. Still a link between corruption and media suppression for more info.

Leave a comment

Filed under Censorship, Corruption, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

The killings continue: Young Iraqi journalist killed at home

One more journalist was added to the list of media workers killed in Iraq.

Mazin al-Baghdadi, a reporter and anchor for al-Mousiliyya TV in Mosul was killed when  gunmen in civilian clothing showed up at his home around 6 p.m. They identified themselves as intelligence officers.

When al-Baghdadi came out to to speak with the men, they shot him.

So far this year seven journalists and media workers have been killed, according to Reporters Without Borders. Iraq remains one of the most deadly countries for journalists.

Leave a comment

Filed under Killings

Iraq gov’t making life difficult for journalists

Good piece this morning on NPR Morning Edition on the new regulations the Iraqi government is forcing on journalists.

In Iraq, Getting The Story Gets Tougher For Reporters

The government office that oversees the press in Iraq is the Communication and Media Commission. It was set up by the U.S., just after the 2003 invasion.

The commission recently announced that all news organizations, both Iraqi and foreign, are now required to register, pay hefty licensing fees, and sign a pledge that they won’t ignite sectarian tensions or encourage terrorism.

To be honest, this should not be surprising.

The tradition of free media independent of government control is not something seen in that part of the world.

Earlier this year, the government proposed a series of rules that severely restrict journalists.

Among the proposal submitted in February, media organizations must submit lists of their employees to the government.

Forget the privacy concerns. Think about safety of the journalists. Of the 140 journalists killed in Iraq since 2003, at least 89 were targeted for murder, according the Committee to Protect Journalists. The CPJ showed that these journalists were targeted because of sectarian or work affiliations.

And in July the government proposed a special press court to deal with complaints against journalists.

The government — as noted in the NPR piece — also keeps reporters away from attacks sites.

It is not surprising that the Iraqi government is doing these things — traditions are hard to break — but what is upsetting is that the U.S. government is not speaking out more aggressively against these restrictions of the very freedoms that were supposed to have been brought to the Iraqi people with the fall of the dictatorship.

1 Comment

Filed under Press Freedom