The Iraqi authorities are severely harassing foreign journalists coming to Iraq and are imposing a series of complex measuresset by the Media and Communications Commission CMC, the National Operations Center NOC and the Joint Operations Command.
In Kask checkpoint near Sinjar, security forces detained the BBC staff of four journalists (Jeremy Francis, Marcus John, Cara Louise, Nikki Robert) on the grounds that they did not have a book from the Joint Operations Command, despite having a book from the Media and Communications Commission and the National Operations Center.
The Suqour checkpoint also prevented another foreign press crew from reaching the city of Fallujah on the pretext that they did not have a book from the Joint Operations Command as well, while the authorities of Baghdad International Airport confiscated one of the cameras from a Russian press team headed by (Vladimir Kuthenkop), which had obtained the approval of the Media and Communications Commission, but the security forces at the airport insisted on confiscating the camera.
The Commission recently added an additional complication to the procedures, which requires the submission of a pledge by the foreign team with the official seal of the related body, despite the knowledge of the Commission that most foreign channels or press bodies do not have official offices in Baghdad, which makes the procedure impossible, in addition to requiring the journalist to submit an entry visa when applying for the Authority’s letter, although visas for Western citizens are issued upon their arrival at the airport according to the previous Cabinet decision.
Foreign journalists spend a long effort and time coordinating with the Joint Operations Command, the National Operations Center and the Media and Communications Commission, and suffer arrest and detention in custody, and psychological torture is practiced against them, in a deliberate manner, in order to discourage them from carrying out their tasks.
The Foreign Journalists Association called on the Prime Minister to lift these measures, and to eliminate those lengthy procedures and the divergence of powers to protect the freedom of journalistic work in the country.
The Press Freedom Advocacy Association expresses its solidarity with foreign journalists and supports the demands of the Foreign Journalists Association, as it considers what is happening with foreign journalists a flagrant constitutional violation, for which the Prime Minister, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, is responsible, because the mentionedsecurity authorities are directly linked to him.
The association also considers the intervention of the CMC by imposing coordination with it on incoming journalists, another legal and constitutional violation, as the CMC’s only task is to regulate the frequency spectrums of broadcasting.
The association considers the ongoing systematic harassment by three parties, two of which are directly linked to the Prime Minister (the National Operations Center, Joint Operations Command), and another whom he has the authority to appoint its president and members (the Media and Communications Commission), against foreign journalists, as an unannounced official ban.