06.05.2017 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

WPFD 2017: UNESCO celebrates with Iraqi journalists

A group of Iraqi journalists and officials are celebrating ًWPFD 2017 in Baghdad.

Baghdad, 3 May 2017- on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO, together with the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate (IJS), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Free Press Unlimited (FPU), organized an event focusing on the safety of journalists in Iraq and impunity related to crimes against the media profession.

The event was attended by Iraqi media institutions and journalists, senior representatives from the Government as well as from the Parliament, and international and local NGOs active in the field of freedom of expression.

Hosted by the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate in Baghdad, the event came in a context of multiple challenges facing the safety of the Iraqi media profession:  journalists operate in extremely volatile environments, reporting from the front line and newly liberated areas; and the number of threats against and killings of media professionals in Iraq remain amongst the highest in the world.

“This celebration is an occasion to remind us of the importance of preserving free and quality journalism at a time when it is facing increasing challenges. It is also an opportunity to call upon each and every Member State to integrate free, independent and pluralistic media, as well as universal access to information within their policies”, said Louise Haxthausen, Director of the UNESCO Office for Iraq.

Participants discussed current efforts by the Iraqi authorities and media profession to engage, hand-in-hand, in breaking the silence surrounding the safety of journalists and related impunity of crimes commited against the media profession.

“The Iraqi journalists deserve more protection and safety, this is our mandate and we hope that, with Iraqi government, we can improve information-sharing, reporting to UNESCO and to the public at large, and ultimately, foster an environment that enables the media profession to operate without fear”, stressed the Head of the IJS, Moaed Al-Lami.

Boris Westering, Head of the MENA team in FPU added that "Free Press Unlimited is committed to support all efforts in ending the culture of impunity of crimes against journalists. We would like to collaborate with UNESCO and the Iraqi civil society as well as the international media development organizations to break the negative trend of impunity."

Representatives from the Council of Representatives, as well as the Ministry of Interior, expressed their readiness to contribute to national efforts towards enhanced public transparency and accountability on the safety of journalists and judicial follow-up on crimes against them.

“Today, Iraq is lagging, but tomorrow you could be a leader in promoting the safety of journalists and adressing impunity. Rest assured of UNESCO’s full commitment towards the pursuit of this common goal”, concluded Louise Haxthausen.

UNESCO has a global mandate to monitor and report on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity.   The next report on this topic will be presented by the UNESCO Director-General to the 39th session of the UNESCO General Conference (October 2017). 




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