Iraq Journalists and Media Launch National Safety Strategy as Death Toll Climbs

May. 11, 2007

A conference of media leaders and journalists unions meeting in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil today called for an end to kidnappings, targeted killings and other threats to media and announced the launching of a National Safety Strategy for Media in the war-torn country.

The meeting was called by the International Federation of Journalists and its two affiliated organisations in Iraq and was attended by leading media organisations in the face of a worsening security crisis for media.

A series of kidnappings, targeted assassinations and violent attacks on media houses have seen the death toll among journalists and media staff rise to more than 200. The latest killings took place near Kirkuk earlier this week.

Media are saying enough is enough; the killings have to stop; the risks facing journalists have to be reduced, said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. The meeting agreed that media, journalists groups and the authorities must work together to implement a comprehensive safety strategy across the whole country.

Earlier, the meeting called for the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston, kidnapped two months ago in Palestine and also for fresh action to trace 14 Iraqi journalists who have been kidnapped or disappeared over the past three years.

The meeting called on the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists and the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists and media organisations to establish a national Iraq Media Safety Group by the end of July. Safety offices will be opened in Baghdad and Irbil and a programme of support for media to combat safety threats will be launched.

White said the meeting provided a positive response to the worst safety crisis facing media in modern history. Iraq is a divided country with rising violence and ferocious political rivalry, but media and journalists have found a single voice to demand an end to the killings and a co-ordinated strategy for defending media, he said.

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