25.09.2011 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

UNESCO Iraq Office calls for transparent investigation into the murder of Iraqi journalist


The Director of the UNESCO Office for Iraq, Mohamed Djelid, joined with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova in condemning the murder on Thursday 8 September of journalist Hadi Al Mahdi in his Baghdad home.

“This murder is a tragedy and undermines freedom of expression and freedom of the press.  It is critical that authorities investigate this crime and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” said Djelid, adding, “the Government’s reputation and its credibility with respect to human rights will be in jeopardy until justice is served.”  Director General Bokova issued a statement on Saturday saying, “Those who kill journalists must be brought to justice, lest fear paralyze both the media and the ordinary people who rely on professional journalists for the news and analysis that inform their political choice".”

Al Mahdi, a popular radio talk show host, was an outspoken critic of the government, but was also known to be equally critical of the political elite, whatever the party affiliation, questioning their commitment to resolving long-standing issues plaguing Iraqi society.  In recent weeks, he was actively organizing for demonstrations protesting the government’s response to provide basic services such as electricity and water and was planning to join other Iraqi citizens in Tahrir Square on Friday. 

Published reports reveal that Al-Mahdi was concerned for his safety in the lead-up to Friday’s demonstration.  In several posts on his Facebook page he said that he was being threatened and feared for his life. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Iraq is at the top of its Impunity Index for failing to investigate the murders of journalists.  “Although crossfire and other conflict-related deaths have dropped in Iraq in recent years, the targeted killings of journalists spiked in 2010,” the report reads.  Of the 92 journalists murdered in Iraq in the last decade, not one case has been prosecuted, let alone thoroughly investigated. 

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