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Iraqi security forces kidnap journalist, assault others

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 10 December 2012 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights (ANHRI) strongly condemns the Iraqi security forces' assault on the correspondents of Asia TV as they went about their work in Baghdad on the morning of 7 December 2012.

ANHRI also condemns the kidnapping of a correspondent for the Iraqi Media Network while he was covering a demonstration that took place at the airport in Najaf city on 6 December 2012.

Asia TV's crew was beaten and humiliated by members of the federal police force after having been arrested and banned from working in central Baghdad despite having shown identification and authorization for their presence. The police forces also confiscated their equipment and attempted to break some of it as the journalists pleaded with senior officers who seemed openly indifferent to the situation.

In another event highlighting the constant targeting and harassment of journalists in Iraq, security forces kidnapped the Iraqi Media Network journalist Ihsan Shawket while he was covering demonstrations coming out of Najaf's airport, despite identifying himself as a journalist and showing authorization to cover the incident.

They confiscated his tools and have now held him in an unknown location for over two days despite the absence of legal justification for their actions.

"The assault on journalists and media staff as they do their work is a serious violation of the right to access information and collect it. It is also a clear targeting of journalists in an attempt to implement a media blackout and silence voices," stated ANHRI.

The network demands the immediate release of Ihsan Shawket and that information on his whereabouts be given. ANHRI holds the authorities responsible for any harm that might be inflicted on him during his period of detention.

ANHRI also calls for an investigation into the assault on the Asia TV correspondents and for those responsible to be held accountable for their actions.

It reminds the Iraqi authorities that violations of the rights of journalists are increasing as ANHRI's monitoring of the situation brings forth past cases including the case of Sabah Hasan.

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