UNESCO and Iraqi journalists celebrate World Press Freedom Day

UNESCO Iraq Office, with the cooperation of the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, and with participation from the Ministry of Interior and the Iraqi Press Association, organized a virtual meeting with journalists from all governorates to celebrate World Press Freedom Day.

“Journalism without fear or favour” was the theme for this international occasion, by recalling the huge sacrifices made by journalists and media workers, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

“We are standing here today, facing a huge challenge, threatening to overshadow the daily lives of people across the world during this crisis. Journalists, doctors, nurses and security officers are all facing the same threat of COVID-19. We all applaud them for the sacrifices that they have to make to provide us with the needed information, fact-based news and analysis. With this statement, the President of the Federation of Journalists in Iraq, and the Federation of Arab Journalists, Mr Moayad Al-Lami, started his opening speech, stressing on the need for a full governmental response to cease the risks of threats in the media society.

“Celebrate World Press Freedom Day from Home”, that is the statement that has been agreed on from all participants at the ceremony, due to the circumstances that are currently affecting the world from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another year has passed and we are still counting numbers of media and press victims in Iraq: Mazen Latif and Tawfeeq Tamim are an example of journalists with their fates unknown, and more than six journalists were killed since last year. Six other journalists have been infected with COVID-19, some have recovered while the rest of the journalists remain in danger while doing their jobs in the field. “According to Dhea Subhee, UNESCO Iraq ”Free and independent press is necessary at all times, but it is particularly important during health crisis, such as the crisis we are currently experiencing. “While many are primarily searching for information online, the role of professional journalists is to assist in providing information and provide the necessary guidance.

Major General, Saad Maan, the Director of the Department of Media in the Ministry of Interior, said in his opening speech that “The Ministry of Interior seeks to complete the setting up of the investigation unit by training their officers towards achieving an optimal response to journalists, by securing their working fields and the safety of Iraqi women journalists. In a program to break the silence through its partnership with UNESCO Iraq Office to enhance the protection of journalists.”

Mr. Maan also added that the ministry is seeking to reveal the mystery of the abduction and murder of journalists, and it is in the process of providing a full report to the Director of UNESCO Iraq regarding these murders in the near future.

The participants discussed the challenges and problems facing them during this crisis, and sent a request to the Iraqi Government and to the Prime Minister’s Office to sign a draft of the executive order on the protection mechanism for the safety of journalists in Iraq, specifying who would be responsible for the safety of journalists, and to determine the duty of each member of the Committee.

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