The crew of the program “Jaafar Talk”, which is broadcast on the German channel DW, received threats of arrest by a delegation from the Ministry of Interior, prompting the team to cancel the episodes that are scheduled to be set in Iraq and leave the country immediately.
The presenter Jaafar Abdul Karim said that a delegation from the Ministry of Interior told him that he could not be protected, and that he should obtain a permit from the Media and Communications Commission, otherwise he would expose himself and his staff to arrest.
Abdul Karim considered this an indirect threat, and a direct danger to his teammates, and his invited guests in the episode, which was supposed to discuss the unemployment file and its impact on youth, women’s rights and political participation of youth. The episode was scheduled to be filmed in the gardens of Al-Zawraa Park in the capital, Baghdad, in the presence of representatives of the protest movement that Baghdad and the Iraqi provinces that were witnessed against unemployment and corruption, according to the official website of DW satellite.
Before Jaafar came to Iraq to record his episode, channels and accounts via social media affiliated with the parties in power, published many pictures and publications inciting the program and its presenter, preceded by a request from a lawyer affiliated with the authority to the judge of the Rusafa Court that is specialized in publishing cases, stipulating that his entry was denied.
Jaafar and his team told DW that they were pressured by Iraqi officials (and did not disclose the nature of threats), following a direct request from the CMC to obtain a permit prior to the episode’s recording, even though he had obtained all permits to enter Iraq and perform his duty.
Jaafar said that a representative of the Ministry of Interior visited him on Wednesday evening (the first of February) at the hotel where the team resides, to inform him that he was not allowed to film his episode without permission from the commission, and that he would be otherwise arrested.
All these data reveal the existence of an authoritarian and partisan consensus to prevent the program “JaafarTalk” from being present in Iraq, as the system of authority that issued all the permits to Jaafar, returned and threatened him with arrest if he insisted on recording an episode of his program in Iraq.
The Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq, while condemning the behavior of the Ministry of Interior and the Media and Communications Commission, indicates the existence of a political will that controls the mood of the two government agencies that are not originally concerned with preventing any journalist from exercising duties, as the Ministry of Interior under the constitution carries out the task of protecting journalists, not threatening them, and the Media and Communications Commission regulates the intersection of wavelengths rather than issuing permits to work. The association also holds Prime Minister Mohamed Shiya al-Sudani responsible for this unconstitutional act by two institutions administratively linked to the executive authority headed by al-Sudani.
The Association affirms that the freedom of journalistic work in Iraq is constitutionally guaranteed, and what was done by the Ministry of Interior and the Media and Communications Commission represents a flagrant violation of the Constitution, and a violation of the international treaties that Iraq has signed, especially since this event occurred on the day of the briefing of the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jeanin Plasschaert, on Iraq, in which she neglected the low level of freedom of expression and the right to freedom of journalistic work in Iraq.
The association calls on the prime minister to investigate the process of banning the television program, the direct threat to his staff, and to expose the parties behind it.