Freelance cameraman slain in Iraq

New York, October 4, 2010The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the killing earlier today of freelance cameraman Tahrir Kadhim Jawad, 27, and expressed concern over the rising trend of fatal attacks on journalists in Iraq.

Jawad died instantly after a bomb attached to his car exploded in Garma, 50 miles west of Baghdad in volatile Anbar province, according to local press freedom groups and online news reports. Jawad was driving to the capital to deliver footage when the bomb exploded. Security forces swiftly cordoned off the blast site and initiated an investigation, but made no arrests at the scene.

Jawad had worked as a journalist for seven years, first as an editor with the weekly Al-Karma, and then as a freelance cameraman who supplied numerous television broadcasters with footage. The slain journalist was “a courageous cameraman” who obtained distinguished footage “where others had failed to do so,” according to Mohammad al-Jamili, the Baghdad bureau chief for U.S.-government-backed Al-Hurra television, one of Jawad’s employers. Jawad is survived by his wife and five children. 

 “We extend our condolences to the family of our fallen colleague Tahrir Kadhim Jawad,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “As the country’s internal security situation has steadily deteriorated over the past months, we have witnessed Iraq’s rapid degeneration into one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work, and this only after a short-lived period of relative calm. Jawad is the third journalist to be murdered in Iraq in less than a month.”

Iraq was the deadliest country for journalists every year from 2003 to 2008, according to CPJ research. It avoided the dishonor in 2009, reflecting an improvement in overall security throughout the country. But as U.S. military operations have drawn to a close and Iraqi political factions have failed to form a government, violence has increased.

Attacks on journalists and other media workers have spiked, resulting in at least six deaths in the past five months. An independent Kurdish journalist was killed in May. In July, three media support workers died in a suicide attack on the Baghdad offices of the Arabic-language satellite news channel Al-Arabiya. Two television journalists were also killed on consecutive days in September. Other forms of press suppression have also been on the rise, including physical violence against journalists and incommunicado detention, CPJ research found.