CPJ research shows that in 88 percent of cases of journalist slayings around the world, the masterminds behind the murders face no consequences, even when their accomplices are apprehended.
In the stairwell between the newsroom and studios of Nalia Radio and Television (NRT) stand a charred monitor, a burnt vision mixer, and smashed camera lens. They make up a display of equipment damaged when armed men set fire to the station in Sulaymaniyah, a city in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan which is home to much of the Kurdish media.
One of the strongest memories I have of meeting President Masoud Barzani is the winding drive up to his mountain-top headquarters in the town of Salahuddin outside Erbil. That was in 2008, when a CPJ delegation secured a pledge from the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to "create an atmosphere that is conducive to journalism."
On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed its concerns over the press freedom climate in Iraqi Kurdistan at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. where we launched our special report, "Mountain of impunity looms over Kurdistan journalists." You can watch a video of the press conference here.
Iraqi Kurdistan may seem calm compared with much of the Middle East, but the media are vulnerable whenever internal political tensions flare. Amid impunity for anti-press attacks, including murder and arson, journalists say they must self-censor on topics like religion, social inequality, and corruption associated with powerful officials. A CPJ special report by Namo Abdulla
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The Iraqi city of Mosul is once again one of the world's deadliest places for journalists. In the past two months, the capital of Nineveh province has witnessed a series of targeted assassinations that, according to local press freedom groups, have led to an exodus of journalists from the city fearing for their safety.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.