Beirut, November 27, 2019 — Iraqi authorities should allow Amman-based broadcaster Dijlah TV to reopen, and should cease forcing news outlets off the air for their coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On November 12, Iraq’s media regulator, the Communications and Media Commission, ordered the shutdown of eight outlets that have covered the ongoing protests in the country, including Dijlah TV, and recommended security forces physically stop the outlets from broadcasting, as CPJ reported at the time.
Yesterday evening, security forces implemented that order by raiding the Baghdad office of Diljah TV, according to a statement from the broadcaster and a report by the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq, a local press freedom group. The security forces shuttered the outlet, forced staff to leave, and confiscated broadcasting equipment, a server, a surveillance camera, and a cellphone SIM card, according to those reports.
“The closure of Dijlah TV, the unnecessary use of the security forces to implement the closure, and the government’s order to shutter even more outlets show that Iraqi authorities intend to keep the world in the dark about the ongoing turmoil in the country,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on Iraqi authorities to immediately allow Diljah TV to resume its work and allow media outlets and journalists to cover protests throughout the country freely and without fear of reprisal.”
In its statement, Dijlah TV said it will file a legal appeal to reopen the office. The outlet’s Baghdad office was previously raided and ransacked by unidentified gunmen on October 5, as CPJ reported at the time.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.