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Journalist killed, media prevented from working

(RSF/IFEX) - 14 December 2010 - Journalist and presenter on the satellite TV channel al-Anbar Omar Rassim al-Qayssi died on 12 December of injuries he received in a booby-trap car bomb in al-Anbar city centre, Ramadi, 167 kilometres east of Baghdad.

Reporters Without Borders hopes that an investigation will be opened and those responsible will be brought to trial.

The worldwide press freedom organisation is sickened by the practice of suicide bombings designed to kill a maximum number of civilians. Journalists, whose job it is to cover public events, are regularly caught up in these attacks as victims. Seven Iraqi journalists have been directly targeted in terrorist attacks since May 2010 and none of these cases has been solved.

The latest attack, at the entrance to local government buildings, left around twenty people dead and 30 more injured. Some 10 cars were destroyed in the violent explosion.

Reporters Without Borders also condemns obstruction to the work of journalists on the part of the security forces. Press photographer and correspondent for the weekly al-Anbar, Saddam Mehdi, who arrived on the scene to cover the latest attack, was arrested by police, held for one hour and his equipment was seized.

In a separate incident on 13 December, a team from the political news daily al-Mada was prevented from covering flooding that struck Sadr City in Baghdad following several days of torrential rain. Police arrested the journalists as they arrived in the city centre constituencies 2 and 3, and told them to leave the area, in response to an order from the local council. Faced with threats from the security forces, the editor of the daily withdrew his team of journalists.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the blocking of access to information that journalists in Iraq suffer from. To date, the organisation has recorded numerous incidents of violence against media staff. The organisation urges the authorities to allow journalists to do their job without being harassed.
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