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MEDIA SAFETY GROUP LAUNCHES IN SAME WEEK TWO JOURNALISTS KILLED

The same week a safety group was established for media in Iraq, two journalists were gunned down in the country.

Jawad al-Daami, a line producer for the independent satellite channel Al-Baghdadia (based in Cairo), was shot by unidentified gunmen in Baghdad on 23 September, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). A spokesman at the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory said that he was killed because he was a well-known journalist and poet.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) reports that al-Daami's death comes less than a week after radio reporter Muhannad Ghanem Ahmed was murdered. Ghanem Ahmed, who worked for radio Dar Al Salam, was shot to death near a mosque in Mosul on 20 September.

According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International News Safety Institute (INSI), 228 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. IFJ and INSI are calling on governments and aid agencies to support the Iraqi Media Safety Group (IMSG), which was launched on the weekend in Baghdad and hopes to stem the tide of violence against journalists.

"This launch is a massive step forward in the fight for improved safety in Iraq," says IFJ and INSI in a joint statement. "International support for safety-related work in the media sector which is urgently needed should be channelled through the safety group."

The "home grown and broadly-based" coalition is made up of the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists, the Kurdish Syndicate of Journalists and media organisations, including some of Iraq's most popular satellite television stations.

From a safety office in Baghdad, IMSG is currently working on a website in Arabic and English (http://www.iraqmsg.org), including a database of killings, abductions and attacks on journalists in the country. The group has also planned a programme of support for media to combat threats against their safety, as well as face to face meetings between media owners and government officials to find ways to deal with the threats. IMSG also plans on opening more safety offices around the country and raising money for a national solidarity fund to provide assistance to media victims of violence and their families. For more information, see IMSG's website at: http://www.iraqmsg.org or email the group at: [email protected]

The Iraqi Journalists' Rights Defense Association (IJRDA) has also launched a programme to help protect the rights of journalists - those who face legal harassment because of their work. IJRDA's Legal Mobilization Program will pay the fess of lawyers assigned to defend journalists in Iraqi courts. Journalists facing legal problems are urged to contact IJRDA: +7706246249 or [email protected], or visit (in Arabic): http://tinyurl.com/2w5ree

Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/2d8a4p
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23745
- IFJ and INSI: http://tinyurl.com/34nnre
(25 September 2007)

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