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President Obama urged to launch "credible investigations" into media killings in Baghdad, role of US military

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an 8 April 2009 IFJ media release:

IFJ Calls on Obama to End US Silence Over Injustice of Media Killings in Iraq

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on United States President Barack Obama to intervene over the injustice of journalists killed in Iraq at the hands of the US military.

Marking the sixth anniversary of United States army attacks on media in Baghdad on April 8th 2003, in which three journalists died, the IFJ says President Obama must act to investigate a series of killings in the conflict which remain unresolved.

In a letter to the US President ( http://www.ifj.org/assets/docs/211/100/7f3c3d3-db31864.pdf ), IFJ President Jim Boumelha says the April 8th attack by US forces on Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, which was filled at the time with media staff, "has come to symbolise impunity over attacks on journalists and media staff in Iraq and around the world."

Two journalists, José Couso of Telecinco in Spain, and Taras Protsiuk, a Ukrainian cameraman who worked for Reuters, died in the attack and on the same day, US forces attacked the offices of Al-Jazeera in Baghdad, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub.

Boumelha told President Obama that these attacks have not been independently investigated or properly explained to the satisfaction of the victims' families, their friends and their colleagues. Reports published by US authorities, he said, had failed to thoroughly examine the evidence available and instead merely exonerated US personnel at all levels of command. The Pentagon's November 2004 report on the attack on the Palestine Hotel was, he said, "flawed and unconvincing."

The IFJ has catalogued 16 other cases involving journalists and media staff who have died since March 2003 at the hands of US soldiers. In all of them the families and friends of the victims "wait for credible investigations and honest reports about how and why their loved ones died," said Boumelha.

IFJ national affiliates have also sent letters to US embassies urging US authorities to take responsibility for their part in the deaths of journalists and media staff in Iraq. This year, Boumelha told Obama, journalists "will be encouraged by your vision and plans concerning Iraq which have given hope to millions in this country and across the world."

Boumelha says there should be a review of all the cases and a convincing process of investigation that would "honour your commitment to democracy, human rights and justice."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

For further information on the Couso and Protsiuk (Protsyuk) cases, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93784

For further information on the Ayyoub case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/78535

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