More Journalists Suffer Violence in Erbil & Duhok Than in Sulaymaniyah & Halabja

Reports 02:18 PM - 2024-01-19
Violations against journalists PUKMEDIA

Violations against journalists

Sulaymaniyah Journalists

Sulaymaniyah and Halabja have the fewest instances of violations against journalists, whilst Erbil and Duhok demonstrate the highest number of violations. The Metro Center reported a total of 102 instances of violations against journalists within a year. Halabja had only five cases, while Sulaymaniyah, including Garmian and Raparin, had 18 cases. Compared to that, Erbil had 54 cases and Duhok had 24 cases.

Last year, 249 violations were recorded
The Metro Center for Journalists Rights and Advocacy has published a report on violations in 2023, revealing that a grand total of 249 violations were perpetrated against journalists and media organizations in the Kurdistan Region. While the overall number of violations against journalists has dropped compared to the previous year, a majority of these violations occurred in Erbil, whereas the fewest infractions against journalists were reported in Halabja and Sulaymaniyah.
President Bafel gave journalists full freedom of profession
Najat Rosti, director of the Media Organization's training program for journalists told PUKMEDIA that The PUK has successfully fostered a conducive political atmosphere in its region, resulting in a significant reduction in violations against journalists.

"Although the protests in Sulaymaniyah province, which started last year and are still happening, continue, there have been less instances of violations against journalists compared to Erbil and Duhok. This indicates a positive relationship between the security forces, relevant parties, and journalists," Rosti added.

He further said: "The lack of infractions in Sulaymaniyah can be attributed to the strong connection between Bafel Jalal Talabani, the President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and journalists, who has granted journalists the right to exercise their profession without restrictions."
The majority of the violations occurred in Erbil
According to the documented instances of journalist violations at the Metro Center last year, there were a total of 102 cases. Among these, Erbil had the highest number of violations with 54 cases, followed by Duhok province with 24 cases. Sulaymaniyah and Halabja provinces had the lowest number of violations, with 18 cases in Sulaymaniyah and five in Halabja.

The 2023 report on press freedom in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, released annually by the Metro Center, documented 249 instances of violations against 247 journalists and media institutions in the previous year. There were a total of 134 instances of obstruction and discrimination, 38 instances of confiscation of journalistic materials, and 27 instances of attacks, threats, and insults.

During the previous year, there were five instances of journalists being apprehended outside the boundaries set by the Journalism Act. Additionally, 37 cases of detention without a trial were documented, along with four cyber assaults, two incidents of damaging journalistic equipment, and two incidents of attacks on the homes of journalists were recorded in the report.
Human rights criticism continues in the Region
The Metro Center report highlights the judicial rulings against journalists and civil society activists in Kurdistan. Specifically, it mentions that the extension of sentences for Sherwan Sherwani and Omed Baroshki in 2021 and beyond has led to criticism from both local and international organizations, including the Metro Center, regarding the management of human rights concerns in the Kurdistan Region.

The 2023 report on press freedom in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq emphasizes the unfairness of the rulings made by the Erbil Court of Appeal, specifically citing the cases of Sherwan Sherwani and Guhdar Zebari as illustrative examples. The report further indicated that the trial of Sherwan Sherwani and others did not adhere to the requirements of a just trial and were not immune from political intervention, with the intention of suppressing the voices of demonstrators and undermining freedom of speech.
Guhdar Zebari faced a law that was both harsh and unsympathetic
The report also highlights the case of journalist Guhdar Zebari. Zebari encountered a law that was both harsh and unsympathetic, as the law extended his punishment for possessing a weapon without a license.

The report of the Metro Center also stated: "According to Reporters Without Borders, an organization based in Paris, Iraq is placed fifth among the 180 nations where perpetrators of journalist assassinations are not held accountable. However, it is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom... According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Kurdistan Region falls under the classification of "Iraq being the most dangerous country for journalists."


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