Two Journalists Released after one Hour of Interrogation

Soran Mohammed, NRT reporter and Diyari Kamal, cameraman.

By KirkukNow in Kirkuk

The Iraqi army has arrested a reporter and cameraman for a private channel in Kirkuk and released them after an hour of interrogation.

Soran Mohammed, a reporter and Diyar Kamal, a cameraman for Sulaimaniyah-based Nalia Radion and Television NRT, were arrested by Iraqi army forces at a security checkpoint at 11:30 pm on May 8, after returning from journalistic coverage in Palkana village of Sargaran sub-district where Kurd and Arab farmers are in dispute over land ownership for decades.

Mohammed told KirkukNow that he and the cameraman went to Palkana village to cover the dispute between Kurdish and Arab farmers over the ownership of agricultural land.

“On the road between Dubiz (Dibis) and Pirdy (Altun Kopri), an Iraqi army checkpoint stopped us and detained us. They kept us inside the checkpoint for more than an hour, but they treated us very respectfully and did not say anything inappropriate to us.”

“An officer asked about the reason for the visit to Palkana village. We showed them our journalistic identity cards and explained that we were in the area for journalistic work,” Mohammed added.

Press freedom in Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR is deteriorating due to continued violations, including arbitrary detention and “unfair” trials of journalists, according to International and local organizations.

Press freedom in Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR is deteriorating due to continued violations, including arbitrary detention and “unfair” trials of journalists, says Reporters Without Borders  RSF as Iraq ranks 169th out of 180 countries in the world, according to the latest ranking of countries for press freedom, released by RSF on May 3, World Press Freedom Day.

Freedom of expression is retreating in Iraq which ranked 167th last year, mounting pressure from international press freedom organizations on the authorities in Baghdad and Erbil.

Palkana village, one of the 42 villages in the district of Dibis, northwest of Kirkuk, which has a dispute over the ownership of agricultural land, resulted in continuous tensions. Although Palkana is administratively part of Kirkuk province, the security issue is with the Salahaddin Provincial Operations Command.

The northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1,7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.

"The army forces released us after an hour of detention, watching videos and camera recordings, without any conditions or promises or facing any charges," NRT reporter said.

According to both the Iraqi Journalists' Rights Law and the Kurdistan Press Law, journalists are free to work, have the right to attend all conferences and public meetings for professional work, and cannot be questioned or investigated for crimes committed against them not to be.

From May 3, 2023 to May 2, 2024, over 330 violations were recorded in Iraq, including arrests, injuries, armed attacks, obstruction, beatings and lawsuits against journalists, according to the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq.

Baghdad topped the list, followed by Erbil and Basra, then Nineveh with 32, Kirkuk with 27 violations, Diyala with two and Salahaddin with one case.

  • FB
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YT