Mountain of impunity looms over Kurdistan journalists

CPJ report looks at the state of press freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan

New York, April 22, 2014–A lack of law enforcement and a general climate of impunity have bred self-censorship and hampered reporting on sensitive issues such as corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in a report released today.

While Iraqi Kurdistan, which has largely escaped much of Iraq’s post-war violence, enjoys a booming economy, political tensions run high, and independent media are vulnerable. Journalists have faced threats, harassment, beatings, detentions, arson, and murder. Most of the attacks have gone unpunished.

“If they wish for Iraqi Kurdistan to be a beacon of democracy, the region’s leaders must show political will to uphold the rule of law and solve attacks on journalists,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Journalists must be able to work without fear of reprisal, even when investigating corruption and other sensitive topics.”

The report, written by Namo Abdulla, Washington bureau chief for Rudaw, details the events surrounding several high-profile attacks, including the murder of Kawa Garmyane, editor of the independent monthly Rayel, and an arson attack on the private television network NRT.

In the report’s recommendations, CPJ calls on the Kurdish Regional Government to thoroughly investigate unsolved attacks on journalists and hold those responsible to account. UNESCO and the international community should work with the government to develop and improve legislation and mechanisms to safeguard journalists and guarantee freedom of the press.


CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide


Note to editors:

The report is available in Arabic, English, and Kurdish.


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