Jour­nal­ists hu­mil­i­ated dur­ing the elec­tion process

No one has been held ac­count­able for vi­o­la­tions against jour­nal­ists, say press-free­dom NGOs.

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

Re­cently, Metro Center, a press free­dom or­ga­ni­za­tion, an­nounced that it has recorded scores of vi­o­la­tions against jour­nal­ists dur­ing the 2013 elec­tions for the Kur­dis­tan leg­is­la­ture, ask­ing the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) and the rel­e­vant par­ties to take ac­tion to put an end to the vi­o­la­tions.

The Center has al­ready an­nounced that dur­ing the par­lia­men­tary elec­tion cam­paigns, be­tween Au­gust 28 and Septem­ber 19, at least 40 jour­nal­ists from dif­fer­ent me­dia out­lets were ha­rassed by sup­port­ers of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties and by the se­cu­rity forces.

The Center’s new state­ment men­tions that 21 jour­nal­ists were ha­rassed on both spe­cial and gen­eral vot­ing days.

They jour­nal­ists con­tacted the Center’s vi­o­lence reg­is­tra­tion depart­ment and filed law­suits against the vi­o­la­tors.

“At least 61 jour­nal­ists across the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion have been ha­rassed or in­tim­i­dated dur­ing the 2013 Kur­dis­tan leg­isla­tive elec­tion process,” the state­ment reads.

The Law on Jour­nal­ism in force in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion is clear on this mat­ter: “Ev­ery­one who ha­rasses or abuses any jour­nal­ist dur­ing his/her duty will be pun­ished with the same law that pun­ished the ha­rass­ment of a state em­ployee dur­ing the ex­e­cu­tion of his/ her duty.”

Re­ports show that se­cu­rity forces attacked jour­nal­ists in their uni­forms, while there are con­firmed re­ports that some se­cu­rity mem­bers changed into plain clothes be­fore at­tack­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Center, no one has yet been ques­tioned about the recorded ha­rass­ment cases.

“Some of the recorded vi­o­la­tions are com­pletely at odds with ar­ti­cles in the Kur­dis­tan Jour­nal­ism Law, and the rest can be re­garded as crimes,” the state­ment reads.

The Center con­demned the vi­o­la­tions against jour­nal­ists in the strong­est terms, and said that: ”The in­tim­i­da­tion of jour­nal­ists, un­der any sort of pre­text, is un­ac­cept­able.”

It ar­gued that the KRG and all the rel­e­vant par­ties should pri­or­i­tize the erad­i­ca­tion of vi­o­lence against jour­nal­ists, and above all the in­volve­ment of the se­cu­rity forces, who are sup­posed to pro­tect sta­bil­ity, in the at­tacks.

How­ever, the jour­nal­ists mak­ing th­ese claims crit­i­cize the gov­ern­ment, say­ing it has not done enough to raise the aware­ness level of the se­cu­rity forces to avoid a rep­e­ti­tion of such ac­tions.

Other

Press free­dom or­ga­ni­za­tions have also urged a rapid re­duc­tion in the ha­rass­ment of jour­nal­ists.

“The KRG Min­istry of the In­te­rior has shown that it has no in­ten­tion of pun­ish­ing the mem­bers of its se­cu­rity forces, and this is a very dan­ger­ous sign for jour­nal­ists in the fu­ture,” Niaz Ab­dul­lah, the di­rec­tor of the Metro Center in Er­bil, told the Kur­dish Globe in an ear­lier in­ter­view.

Jalal Ma­jeed Farhad, a reporter for the Ru­daw Me­dia Net­work, was one of the jour­nal­ists who was in­tim­i­dated by the se­cu­rity forces on the day of the spe­cial vote. “A mem­ber of the se­cu­rity forces attacked me and my tech­ni­cians while we were busy set­ting up to a live broad­cast. They seized our cam­eras and sound equip­ment un­der the pre­text that we used their photographs in a pre­vi­ous pro­gram with­out let­ting them know.”

Metro recorded 359 vi­o­la­tions against jour­nal­ists in 2011. In the first quar­ter of 2012 along, some 17 cases were recorded.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, the in­tim­i­da­tion of jour­nal­ists poses a ma­jor threat to the demo­cratic process in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

En­coun­ters be­tween se­cu­rity forces and a jour­nal­ist, Rah­man Gharib, dur­ing a demon­stra­tion in Su­laimaniyah.

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