UNESCO, FreePressUnlimited (FPU) and MoI, launched an initiative to protect the lives of journalists

Following the killing of two journalists in Basra on 10 January 2020, UNESCO Iraq Office and FreePressUnlimited (FPU) in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and the national committee for the safety of journalists organized a meeting with Iraqi journalists to discuss the measures aimed to protect them in light of the latest incident.

During the meeting, MoI representative Saad Maan, on behalf of the Minister of Interior, Yassin Al-Yasiri, launched the second hotline “171” to be the tool of contacting the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) by journalists in Iraq if police support is required. The hotline is based in the Special Investigation Unit, which was established under the project “Breaking the Silence: Enhancing Public Accountability on Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists in Iraq”.

UNESCO has also supported radio programmes focusing on the safety of journalists (e.g. “Media and Security”), and established the “5555” hotline, dedicated to the protection of journalists, in cooperation with CMC and the Ministry of Interior.

The Ministry of Interior provided information on the dynamics of the attacks on journalists and media professionals covering the recent demonstrations. Saad Maan the director of media and public information at the MoI stated that “the MoI is investigating the crimes that were committed against the 2 journalists in Basra, the special investigation team was assigned by the minister to reveal the circumstances of the murder” UNESCO expresses its deep concern for the attacks against journalists’ in Iraq.

The UNESCO-supported national monitoring mechanism of attacks against journalists confirmed 42 attacks on journalists and 37 cases of media workers being impeded from covering protests in Baghdad and provinces around the country.

Media representatives called the Ministry of Interior to assure protection for local and international media institutions in Iraq. Mr Maan, expressed the ministry’s readiness to provide special and fast protection by dispatching security forces to any media that is threatened or at risk once they call 171.

UNESCO Iraq Office has been spearheading the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, in close cooperation with the Iraqi authorities, media representatives, as well as national and international specialized NGOs.

This hotline for journalists was established by UNESCO Iraq with the Ministry of Interior, with funding from the Dutch government, as part of the project breaking the silence: enhancing public accountability on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in Iraq. Partners include the Communication Media Commission and the Iraqi National Committee to Protect Journalists and Combat Impunity.

UNESCO Iraq Office is building the capacity of the investigative unit for journalists’ cases at the Ministry of Interior, as part of the procedures that form the mechanism of protecting journalists and combating impunity in Iraq, including the hotline 5555 and the hotline 171.