All Sides Attacking Press Freedom in Iraq: CJFE

Thursday, April 3, 2003
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) expressed grave concern today over reports that Coalition and Iraqi authorities have each imposed new restrictions on journalists covering the war in Iraq. "It is wrong for U.S. Central Command to impede independent journalists - the so-called unilaterals," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said. "We support the right of reporters to choose to be embedded with the military. But we also support those who have chosen to cover the war as unilaterals. "At the same time, it is wrong for Iraq to imprison some journalists, expel others, and place others still under house arrest. Journalists must be free to serve their readers, listeners and viewers around the world without harassment." The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) charged today that Coalition forces were forcibly removing unilaterals from southern Iraq and reserving their harshest treatment for journalists from countries not participating in the U.S.-led invasion. The EBU said the measure was forcing some journalists to cover the war clandestinely at "a much greater risk." The International Federation of Journalists called the actions "unacceptable discrimination against independent journalism." And CJFE earlier this week protested the expulsion from Iraq by U.S. forces of four unilateral journalists - two from Israel and two from Portugal. Meanwhile, Iraq has perpetrated press-freedom violations of its own; the Iraqi information ministry yesterday banned one Al Jazeera correspondent from working and ordered order another to leave the country immediately. Ten journalists from Britain and Italy have also been confined to a Baghdad hotel since the end of March. Iraq did earlier this week release four journalists it had jailed on spying charges but deported them to Jordan rather than allowing them to continue working. CJFE is an association of more than 400 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others committed to preserving press freedom and freedom of expression in Canada and around the world. For more information, contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 e-mail: cjfe@cjfe.org

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