Just weeks after the UN security council's adoption of Resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists in armed conflicts, a new string of killings of journalists in Iraq has underlined the urgent need for the Iraqi government to take determined measures to protect its country's media personnel, Reporters Without Borders said today
A total of 146 journalists and media assistants have been killed since a US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003.
"How many more deaths will we have to count before the Iraqi authorities decide to put an end to impunity?" Reporters Without Borders asked. "Although many others fall victim to the daily violence ravaging Iraq, journalists are for the most part deliberately targeted because of what they do. Those responsible must be found and punished, or else these killings will continue."
Six media employees killed in less than a week
Four employees of the governmental daily Al Sabah were killed in an especially horrifying manner from 12 to 16 January. Two, whose names have not been revealed, were kidnapped from the newspaper's offices in Baghdad on 12 January and were found with their throats cut the next day near Al Nouman hospital.
Yassin Aid Assef, the newspaper's Al Anbar correspondent, was killed by a bomb while out covering a story in Baghdad two days later. A security guard's body was found on the newspaper's roof on 16 January. The newspaper, which did not want to give out his name, said he was probably shot from a distance with a hunting rifle while patrolling the building's roof.
In a separate case, gunmen opened fire on freelance journalist Khoudr Younes al-Obaidi on 12 January, killing him instantly.
Finally, Reporters Without Borders has learned that journalist Falah Khalaf Al Diyali of the daily Al Saha was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on 15 January in the city of Ramadi (110 km west of Baghdad).
Meanwhile, another name has been added to the list of journalists who have been kidnapped and about whom there has been no news since their abduction. Akil Adnan Majid, the accountant of the daily Al Sabah, was kidnapped outside the newspaper's premises in Baghdad on 9 January. No contact has yet been established with his abductors. A total of six journalists and media assistants are currently being held hostage in Iraq.