2018: the year of press blockade and compulsory valediction

 

 

31/12/2018

 

Preface

As in past years, where there have been alarming statistics of violations against Iraqi press and media workers, the year 2018 recorded more frequent breaches of similar attacks that coincided with the global rankings of freedom of expression that put Iraq at inferior status.

In the war media, Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq recorded the martyrdom of a photographer in Samarra, months after the announcement of Victory and the defeat of ISIS, while (13) cases of armed aggression, including cases of clan and security threats, and (13) Other detentions by security forces mostly in Basra and Kurdistan, while security forces and VIPs personal guards recorded 29 cases of assault, beatings, and verbal insults and prevented coverage by different cadres of journalists and media workers, till the time of reporting. This indicates the unwillingness of the three authorities to reform the legal environment for freedom of journalistic work, and providing a functional environment.

The association took part in 6 lawsuits that have been filed against media-workers at the time when the series of shutting down media bodies continues.

 

 

inspite of liberation; war media paid its share

Mid-January, journalist Saad Hadi Khalaf al-Mashrafawi, who works at the al-Shabab news agency and the Al-Sheiria website in Nasiriyah, was killed after being targeted by a car bomb in Mtibijah area near Samarra.

 

armed attacks and threats

  • In 13/1/2018, unidentified gunmen threw a bomb in front of the house of a Reuters photographer ( Ako Rasheed) in Kirkuk, damaging his house and subjecting his family to terror.
  • at a late hour today, resident of  Adil Alrikaby, Chief editor of Rifaii journal in Thi qar, was attacked.
  • In 14/3/2018, a tribal sheikh in Basra threatened colleagues working for the governorate’s media “al-Mirbed”, and closed its building for the news of clan fighting in the city, for publishing a video on social media that shows the tribal conflict in the city.
  • On 21 /7/ 2018, the correspondent of the Arab NRT Channel in Babil (Issa al-Atwani) was severely beaten by unidentified attackers and was taken to a Baghdad hospital after being seriously injured.
  • In 13/5/2018, correspondent of Al-Sharqiya channel (Hasan Sabah al-Mandawi) in Basra Governorate was threatened to be killed and held for a tribal gathering “a strict warning by guns= dagga” following news about the escape of the former governor (Majid Nasraoui), his son and his special secretary (Qaisar al-Sari 13/9/2018
  • Unknown persons targeted the house of the journalist Hassan Sabah al-Minshidawi in al-Zubair district, west of Basra, with a grenade, causing damages to the facade of the house.
  • On 6 September 2018, a number of demonstrators in Basra attacked the headquarters of three satellite channels (Iraqia, Al-Ghadir, Alfurat) and set them on fire in a series of burning operations of the headquarters of several parties in the province.
  • In 18/7/2018, the Dujail intelligence director summoned the journalist Khamis al-Khazraji to sign a pledge not to cover media or social media events, and the security services threatened to arrest him and take responsibility for the eruption of any demonstration in Dujail district
  • On 20/7/2018, journalist Ahmed Shaibani received a death threat via a text message on the background of his coverage of demonstrations in Diwaniyah province
  • On 25/ 8/ 2018 unknown assailants targeted(Kirkuk ) and/”Kurd sat ” channels in Kirkuk province, with a mortar shell.
  • On 17 October 2018, the director of Al-Madina Radio news and the Parents channel correspondent (Ahmed Kanani) was attacked by unidentified assailants near his home in Hilla, Babil province, wounded by his shoulder and his car was damaged.
  • In 26/10/2018, a reporter for Al-Hurra channel in Diyala (Hadi al-Anbaki) was threatened after publication of the arrest warrant that was issued against Diyala health director and exposing a related contractor.
  • On 10/12/2018, the presenter in Dijlah channel (Sahar Abbas Jamil) received a number of threats as a result of hosting a controversial political analyst.

 

confinement and arrests

  • In 4/2/2018, the staff of the Al-AHD satellite channel was detained in the Medical city building ; presenter Qusai Shafiq, cameramen Rafid Jabbar, Haidar Zuid and Mohamed Rahim, in the room of the Director General of the City of medicine by civil servants. In spite that the staff obtained the necessary approvals to shoot an episode on cancer patients and available medications.
  • On 28/3/2018 a security force detained a KNN satellite crew in the city of Dohuk for one hour in the City Security Directorate where they were beaten on the grounds of covering the demonstrations that have been launched in front of Duhok Education Directorate building.
  • In 28/3/2018 a Dohuk police force, detained and beat a satellite channel correspondent for (Khandan. he was humiliated after covering the demonstrations that erupted in the city, as many other places opposing the  salary savings system.
  • On 28 /3/ 2018, a security force arrested a reporter for the site “Dwaruz ” (Hanna Jumani) in Erbil and released him on the background of his covering the demonstrations.
  • On 9 /6/ 2018, security forces arrested a correspondent of Al-Sharqiya channel (Mustafa Hamed) from Fallujah, without issuing a warrant, and he was charged that he was working for al-Sharqiya.
  • On 8/7/2018, a security force arrested a correspondent of Al-Furat satellite channel (Mohammad Kazem) and his cameraman while covering a popular demonstration that erupted against electricity degrading services in Za’faraniyah area, southeast of Baghdad
  • On 14/7/2018, the staff of Dijlah Channel (Ahmed Hamid Kazem al-‘aadi, cameramen, Ali Sajjad, Hani al-Arari and Aqeel Mohammed Musallam Alshammari) were detained and their equipment seized by SWAT forces at Najaf airport while covering demonstrations in the city, and were released later.
  • On 17/7/2018, security forces detained the broadcaster of Al-Rasheed (Hassan al-Bayati) while covering a demonstration in the capital, Baghdad.
  • (Mazen Al Kaabi), a freelance cameraman, was detained by security forces at a party headquarters while filming demonstrations in Diwaniyah.
  • On 14/8/2018, the governor of Kirkuk ordered the arrest of 10 journalists and bloggers on charges of inciting public opinion
  • On 31 /8/ 2018, a force from Swat arrested the colleague Issam al-Sawali, a Reuters correspondent for the second time this year, and the colleague Safa Ghaly, Dijla channel cameraman. They were released after about 3 hours of detention.
  • On 12/10/2018, the correspondent of Al-Ahd channel, (Qais al-Zubaidi), was detained by the Cheif of the city police in Kirkuk province for no reason, while covering an explosion that occurred in the area
  • On 22/12/2018, a security force in Basra arrested a correspondent from Fallujah satellite channel, while his covering demonstrations in front of the governorate building. after hours of detention, he was released on bail.

 

security aggressions

  • On 7/1/2018, in an incident not first of its kind, the security of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi detained a group of media workers, who were prevented from entering his conference in Najaf.
  • On 11/1/2018, a force of the 11th Brigade assaulted the staff of al-Ahd channel in the course of their duties in the Maamil area, east of Baghdad.
  • On 26/2/2018, the cadres of channels (Huna Salah al-Din) and (Samarra) were beaten and assaulted by the security of Tikrit University while covering an activity within the university upon an invitation directed to both channels.
  • On 25/3/2018, seven journalists from three different media institutions in Erbil were assaulted and prevented from coverage by security forces during covering a demonstration in the city demanding the payment of salaries.
  • On 26/3/2018, security forces in Erbil closed the local television station “Khabeir ” in Dohuk and a number of media and journalist cadres Were beaten.
  • On 28 March 2018, members of the security forces assaulted a satellite channel correspondent at Kurdsat News in Zakho, Delrin Ghazi.
  • On 19 /5/ 2018, a force from the seaport of Umm Qasr in Basra prevented the Alwalaa satellite channel staff from covering a conference at the port, which was preceded three days before by a similar ban from covering a demonstration held by suppliers at the Port gate.
  • On 20 /6/ 2018, the correspondent of the Al-Nujabaa satellite channel (Wathiq al-Wathiq) was beaten by local police officers in Muthanna, and was prevented from covering in front of Al Hussein Educational hospital in Samawah.
  • On 5/7/2018 Haidar Alhaidary, correspondent of Samawa Channel was attacked by the security of Samawa Department DG while he was nearby.
  • On 5/7/2018, according to orders issued by acting head of provincial council, Walid Kaittan, two media men from Basrah; Safaa Alfreijy , correspondent of Alamel radio and correspondent of Taghyir satellite , Mohammed Aljabiry, were banned from entering the council for coverage.
  • On 31 /7/ 2018, a freelance correspondent in Basra, (Saad Qusai), and a cameraman for Reuters agency and correspondent for Al-Mirbad (Issam al-Sudani), were beaten and their cameras and equipment confiscated during the dispersal of the sit up tents in Basra.
  • On 7/8/2018, Reuter’s correspondent Mohammed Al-Fartousi was suffocated by tear gas that was immediately thrown at a demonstration in front of the governorate Diwan building by the anti-riot forces.
  • On 16 /8/ 2018, the Deputy Governor of Basra, Muhannad al-Saad, prevented the correspondent of Radio al-Mirbed from covering the meeting of the sports clubs of the Olympic Committee in the province.
  • On 31 /8/ 2018, a photojournalist (Nabil Al Jourani), who works for the Ap agency, was exposed to tear gas fired by security forces against demonstrators in front of the Basra Governorate building, and a reporter was suffocated at the same event.
  • On 31/8/2018, Fouad al-Hallin, a correspondent in Basra, was beaten by security agents and his camera destroyed while covering for w.tv the demonstrations.
  • On the same day, a fellow journalist, Shihab Ahmed a correspondent for Basra press, was directly targeted with tear gas canisters and was severely suffocated and taken to hospital.
  • On 4/12/2018, a number of media workers were arrested, beaten and their equipment destroyed during the coverage of the “yellow Jackets” demonstrations in front of the Basra provincial Council.
  • On 2/9/2018 International AP correspondent, Nabil Aljourany, was beaten by security forces during his coverage of Basrah demonstrations.

 

  • On 4 /9/ 2018, a number of Iraqi House of Representatives ‘ security members, deliberately pushed away a number of media correspondents while covering the statement of a political figure in an attempt to disrupt their work.

 

  • On 12 /9/ 2018, the administration of Salah al-Din Hospital, prevented several satellite and media correspondents, from covering the Qalaa restaurant bombing event.
  • On 21/9/2018, the correspondent of Al-Mosuliya channel Hamdi al-Taie was assaulted by the governor of Mosul, Nawfal al Akoub during the coverage of the conference that was held to find suitable solutions for Ninevah educational staff crisis
  • On 29/9/2018, a group of media men were stressed and prevented from coverage by the security of the new Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi during a tour in Mosul.
  • On 24/10/2018, the correspondent of Al-Iraqiya channel in the city of Diwaniyah, (Amin al-Hilali), was verbally assaulted by a traffic officer while covering the Arbaiin visit.
  • On 24/10/2018, the correspondent of the Al-Furat satellite channel in Karbala, Ali Al Khalidi, was assaulted by security members who smashed his personal car windows and detained his media equipment.
  • On 21/11/2018, the staff of Al-Sharqiya satellite channel (Khattab Al-Hiti) and photographer (Qutaybah Amer) were beaten by the deputy director of Al-Mansour municipality while performing his duties.
  • On 2/12/2018, AlFallujah reporter was assaulted by a security force while filming a report on the deteriorating services in Tarmiya District after being submerged by rains.
  • On 13/12/2018, members of staff of KNN Channel (Aram Jamal) and cameraman (Qais Sabah) were assaulted and their equipment seized by Facilities Security in Kirkuk.
  • On 20/12/2018, al-Nujaba staff was severely beaten by a security force while covering a rally of university professors in front of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi’s headquarters in Al-Alawi district of Baghdad.
  • On 21/12/2018, Aletijah channel staff were subjected to seven tear-gas canisters while they were covering a demonstration in Basra in order to stop their evening live broadcast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

association interceded lawsuits:

  • On 22 /2/ 2018, the Education of Wasit Governorate filed a lawsuit against Alfurat satellite correspondent (Riad al-Ajili) on the backdrop of a televised report conveying the tragedy of schools in Kut, Center of the province
  • On 27/2/2018, the District Court of the Kalar region of Sulaimaniyah Province decided to fine the voice of America Delshad Anwar because of a report published in Rayel magazine, which was headed by the journalist Kaoh Krmiani.
  • On 28 /3/ 2018, the Director of the Bureau of the NRT Arabic channel and correspondent in the City of Karbala (Haidar Hadi) received a lawsuit filed against him by a Member of Parliament on the background of reports revealing his irregularities during his election propaganda.
  • On 16/4/2018, the Erbil court imposed a fine of one million Iraqi dinars on the Stander Research and Information Foundation for a lawsuit filed by influential parties there.
  • On 9/5/2018, the Iraqi media network filed a lawsuit against media man (Mohamed Ninaa) on the pretext of inciting Iraqi media network staff.
  • On 8/7/2018, the former Arab NRT correspondent, journalist Hossam al-Kaabi, received a second lawsuit within a month, after the proceedings against him by the secluded Najaf International airport administration, which is said to be the same as the one he was convicted of in 2016 after receiving an intelligence document warning of security breaches in the city of Najaf.
  • On 20/11/2018, a judge of the Karrada investigation Court detained the director of al-Ghad Press agency on the pretext of registering a lawsuit by the Integrity Commission, and was kept in detention for two nights until the judge released him.

 

 

 

channels closures and staff termination

 

Despite the importance of media work in Iraq, and multiple Windows between audiovisual and written media and the large media enterprises that attract many individuals to several posts, all the information associated with a named, these workers are directly subjected to the undulation of these enterprises And their ability to finance themselves, this instability that would be evident through decreasing the number of workers, closing the whole firm, other than issues often associated with political factors associated with the need to launch a public space during the electoral campaigns.

Over the past few years, approximately five satellite channels were closed for reasons mostly related to financial funding ; 2018 witnessed the following:

-Closure of satellite channels: (NRT), Bagdad, Asia.

–  Lay off of (60) employees by NRT channel administration, where some workers said that they had not received some of the benefits after their salaries were cut for several months.

– 16 media workers laid off by Alrashid Satellite channel after receiving a three month payment only.

– Asia Channel administration dismissed about (120) of its workers for financial reasons, some returned to work after months of interruption, after selling shares of the channel to another political party.

– at  the first half of the year 2018 Baghdad channel administration shut down. The administration compromised the remaining workers by moving them to Samarra channel. Dozens of workers earlier left the channel with their salaries pending for several months.

— In 27/8/2018 Iraqi network TV Director Haider Jawad was fired for personal differences between the late and current administrations, days after relieving a  number of freelancers who worked on daily payment or on temporary contracts. One of the  most prominent editorial Secretary Ahmed Abdel Hussein because of  differences with the trustees board or its President.

  • -In 26/11/2018 AlHurra Iraq staff informed the association of termination of all staff contracts about 34 presenters and editors for unknown reasons, but the channel promised to pay all its dues according to the terms of the contract, which is renewed every year with them.

 

 

  • On 1/12/2018 about 60 of (Huna Baghdad) workers were denied their dues and the administration demanded that they continue to work for free for the several coming months.
  • On 3/12/2018 Huna Baghdad cameraman in its office in Salahuldin, Mohammed Aljuburi, reported that the channel showed no responsibility towards him after having a car accident on duty last June.

 

 

lawsuits against journalists

 

The association participated in adopting 7 cases while the legal team confirmed that more than 4000 lawsuits were filed against different media personnel this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data 2018

 

A brief in numbers

 

 

Type of violation

 

Occurrence

 

 

Journalist martyrs 

 

1

 

 

 Number of breaches against journalists

 

79

 

Closed down channels and relieved staff

 

 

237

 

 

 Lawsuits and claims raised against journalists

 

4000 +

 

 The laws that threaten press freedom in Iraq

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 press violations across Iraq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANNELS CLOSED AND STAFF RELEIVED IN 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawsuits and investigations held against journalists in 2018  

 

 

Year Lawsuits filed against journalist across Iraq  

Notes

2018  

More than 4000 lawsuits were filed according to the association’s legal team.

 

We had no chance in collecting all the cases and related data since the court of media and publication crimes was dissolved and the cases were distributed upon criminal and investigation courts across the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laws threatening press freedom in Iraq

 

 

 

Laws and bills that threaten press freedom in the country

 

Year

 

 

–      Journalist’s rights law.

–      Freedom of expression draft bill.

–      Cybercrimes draft bill.

 

 

Past era inherited laws that haven’t been taken care of by HOR:

 

*- Iraqi penal code no. 111 for 1969/ articles of publish crimes

– publications act no. 206 for 1986

– dissolved ministry of information law 2001

– censorship act no.64 for 1973

 

*coalition Provisional Authority order no. 65 for 2003 concerning censored media activity; PM holds the power to shut down any media body along with confiscating its equipment and funds in addition to arresting its workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since 2003 till recent

 

 

 

conclusion and recommendations:

 

It is to be noticed that the number of violations in 2018 doesn’t differ much from those of the last three years which points out a persistent flaw and a serious legal vacuum, that all put together, lead to a non-stop deterioration  in the press scene and that could be high-rocketed easily at any demonstration or incident.

It is also worth underlining that all the violations that were related to non- coverage were directly linked to governmental officials ‘ security which indicates that the legal surrounding of journalism is the last on the list of amendments.

One of the most disappointing points that is recorded in international reports against Iraq is that the Media and Publication Criminal Court was diminished by the head of the judicial authority in coincidence with the increasing number of lawsuits being filed against journalists and bloggers and the expanded public access through social media.

 

Our recommendations accordingly are:

  • PM directs chiefs of operations not to obstruct any journalist on duty, full adherence with constitution and to hold those responsible for any violations accountable according to valid laws.

 

 

  • Obliging syndicates and unions to hold all media bodies responsible for instant layoffs of staffs without prior notice nor adhering to terms of contracts signed with workers. Also, to hold them responsible for signing contracts with any media worker according to the Iraqi labor law in place.
  • HOR should amend the inherited laws in order to secure the rights that were fixed in the constitution and are related to press freedoms (journalist’s protection laws, Censorship of films and other unclassified material, publications, and the articles of publication crime law.)
  • Activating the impunity file according to the international agreements that Iraq has acceded to track the killers of about 400 journalists since 2003.
  • The legal authority should implement the recommendations 0f the Security Council related to press freedom and expression and that stipulates the activation of media and publication court.

 

تقرير-انتهاكات 2018 3

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