86 cases of violations against journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan Region

Announcement of the project to protect and defend free opinion by the Democracy and Human Rights Development Centre (DHRD), Sulaymaniyah, May 30, 2023. Hozan Kamal

By Siako Jalal for KirkukNow

From April 2022 to the end of March this year, 86 cases of violations were committed against journalists in both Erbil and Sulaymaniyah northern provinces, according to a report by the Democracy and Human Rights Development Centre (DHRD).

The report was released Tuesday, May 30, at a ceremony in Sulaymaniyah, attended by representatives of the media, journalists, university professors, legal experts and representatives of relevant government parties.

According to the report, 86 cases of violations against journalists were registered in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah provinces during the implementation of the project, of which the organization interviewed 29 cases face to face.

The project, called the Protection and Defense of Free Opinion Project, which is dedicated to serving journalists, continued from April 1, 2022 to March 31 this year in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, and violations were recorded during that period.

During the same period, they provided 18 legal advices to journalists and media outlets. They have taken over seven cases of journalists and media outlets, one of which has been settled and six others are pending in court.

The report was out at a ceremony entitled “Freedom of the Press and Expression between the Three Poles of Authorities, Journalists and the Law.”

The local and international organizations, human rights advocates members of the Iraqi and Kurdistan parliaments MPs continuously express their grave concern that the journalists and the freedom of press are increasingly under threat all over Iraq including the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR.

“A media environment in which press outlets were closely affiliated with specific political parties and ethnic factions, an opaque judiciary, and a still-developing democratic political system combined to place considerable restrictions on freedom of expression, including the press,” said the 2021 Human rights practices in Iraq by the US department of State, out early April 2022.

The Metro Center for the Protection of Journalists' Rights has registered 431 violations against 301 journalists and media institutions last year while in 2021, there were 353 cases of violations against 260 journalists and media institutions.

Mohammed Ma'roof, the executive director of the project, told a news conference attended by KirkukNow reporter, "This project was to manage the cases of journalists and record violations, monitoring and legal responsibility for the cases.”

This project includes managing the cases of journalists and recording violations, monitoring and taking legal responsibility for the cases

The project is part of the Tatwir project implemented by Un Ponte Per UPP and Masala with EU financial support.

"The project itself was for a year, so we are not sure whether we will resume the project or not," Ma'roof said.

According to the 2022 annual report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), number of journalists jailed around the world set yet another record in 2022. “Annual prison census has found that 363 reporters were deprived of their freedom as of December 1, 2022 – a new global high that overtkes last year’s record by 20% and marks another grim milestone in a deteriorating media landscape.

According to the CPJ 2022 report; Three journalists have been arrested and imprisoned across Iraq, all in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR.

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