CPJ Journalist Security Blog

Iraq


Journalists ride in an army soldiers' carrier to the front line during clashes between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters on August 24, 2013. (Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri)

In recent years, Arab journalists have been taking great risks to report important stories in a region where war and civil unrest remain an ever-present threat. Many are operating without proper equipment or safety training in how to recognize and mitigate the various risks they face.

Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.

An Afghan journalist films in Kabul as a military helicopter flies above. (Reuters/Ahmad Masood)

Considering the worst-case scenarios for post-2014 Afghanistan, international news agencies should start planning a range of assistance responses for locally hired journalists and media staff. By the end of 2014, NATO troops will have largely withdrawn and the Karzai government will make way for a new administration. If the situation becomes chaotic, Afghans working for foreign and local media could become targets for retribution for their work as journalists.

An Iraqi journalist walks past a wall of photos of journalists killed during the Iraq War. (AP/Samir Mizban)

The U.S.-led war in Iraq claimed the lives of a record number of journalists and challenged some commonly held perceptions about the risks of covering conflict. Far more journalists, for example, were murdered in targeted killings in Iraq than died in combat-related circumstances. Here, on the 10th anniversary of the start of the war, is a look inside the data collected by CPJ.

Ambulances carry the bodies of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, who were killed in government shelling in Syria. (Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri)

Murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide--and this year was no exception. But the death toll in 2012 continued a recent shift in the nature of journalist fatalities worldwide. More journalists were killed in combat situations in 2012 than in any year since 1992, when CPJ began keeping detailed records.

Protesters denounce anti-press violence in Iraqi Kurdisatn in this 2010 demonstration. (AP/Yahya Ahmed)

Kurdistan is different, as nearly every Iraqi Kurd I have ever met has said. Far less violent than the rest of Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the parts of the north controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government have escaped the kind of sectarian unrest that continues to flare in the south. But in recent months more than 150 Iraqi Kurdish journalists have been injured or attacked, according to the local Metro Center to Defend Journalists. One journalist was murdered three years ago in Kirkuk after uncovering evidence of government corruption. But most of the journalists who find themselves more recently under siege have been covering violent clashes between the Kurdish security forces and protestors in Sulaymaniyah.

The White House says it wants to improve transparency. Greater access to information could prevent deaths of journalists in the field.These are busy days for Freedom of Information. On April 5, the watchdog Web site that knows no borders, WikiLeaks, posted a classified U.S. military video showing U.S. forces firing on Iraqi civilians, killing many, including two Reuters journalists, as well as wounding children. Two days later, the Pentagon posted a redacted U.S. military assessment of the same incident concluding that U.S. troops fired “in accordance with the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement.” The very same day President Obama hailed the scheduled release of a new Open Government Initiative by all Cabinet agencies to improve transparency and compliance with information requests.

AP

Did you miss it? Yesterday was the 61st anniversary of the United Nation General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. President Barack Obama, as he was leaving for Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, declared December 10 Human Rights Day. To help mark it, his national security advisor, the retired Marine General James L. Jones, at left, invited representatives of a number of human rights and related groups including CPJ to meet with him and other senior national security advisors in the White House.

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