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Baghdad shooting of journalist sparks anger over Iraqi failure to combat impunity

(IFJ/IFEX) - 24 November 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the attempted assassination of a leading Iraqi television journalist and accused the Iraqi Government of 'scandalous negligence' over its failure to challenge impunity in the killing of journalists in Iraqi media.

According to local reports, Imad al Ibadi, director of Al Diyar TV, was yesterday shot three times in the head, the neck and the chest. He is in a stable but critical condition in hospital.

Al Ibadi is a strong critic of the American occupation of Iraq and has exposed financial corruption in the presidential office as well as taking aim at the Iraqi security apparatus, which he has claimed often acts illegally and outside the Iraqi constitution. His forthright journalism, whether broadcast, online, or in local newspapers has made him a prime target, says the IFJ.

"This attack reveals how dangerous life has become for independent journalists in Iraq," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The IFJ supports the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate's demand that these attackers are found and brought to justice."

However, the IFJ is concerned that the Government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is not up to the job and says that the record of unsolved murders of media people over the past few years shows a lack of urgency over the media safety crisis. The murder of Shihab Tamimi, President of the Iraqi journalists' Syndicate, in February 2008 led to a Prime Ministerial order to establish a special investigation, but family members today complain that the killing has been quietly forgotten.

"The fact is that there is a pattern of scandalous negligence in the failure of the Iraqi authorities to investigate killings and to provide protection to journalists," said White. "Government promises to investigate and report on killings of journalists have turned out to be empty words. It is intolerable that journalists are still being picked off on the streets without any proper response by government."

The IFJ says that the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior, Jawad al-Bolani, should both take responsibility for the failure of the Government to act. "This latest attack illustrates that there needs to be an urgent response," said White.

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