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Iraq's Baghdadi police forces severely assault a journalist

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 10 January 2013 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) strongly denounces the Iraqi police forces' assault on a journalist working for one of the local news agencies in Baghdad while covering the celebrations surrounding the 91st anniversary of the founding of the Baghdadi police forces.

Police officers assaulted Haidar El-Rabie, a cameraman at the Baghdad news agency, on 9 January 2013 while he was on the job. They swore at him before checking his identity, insulted him in front of passersby and humiliatingly lock him up in a car. They then proceeded to beat him up, punching him in the face often enough it results in disfigurement and serious injuries.

"Assaulting journalists while they are performing their jobs is a serious violation of the journalists' right to collect and access information," stated ANHRI. "The authorities must put an end to such police violations against journalists as they are violating the professional contexts and ethical boundaries that security forces must abide by when dealing with the media."

According to ANHRI, the security forces' behaviour towards El-Rabie is illegal and is not in accordance with the Journalist Protection Law which was approved by the Iraqi parliament on 9 August 2011. Article 3 of the aforementioned law stipulates how necessary it is for "those working in government departments, the public sector, and other state entities in which a journalist works, to facilitate, whenever possible within their duties, an atmosphere which guarantees the dignity of journalistic work." The policemen in question did not abide by the law, instead deliberately hindering the journalist's work and humiliating him in the process. Article 4 of the law mentions journalists' right to access unprohibited information from different sources. Covering public events is not prohibited work that could threaten the security and safety of the homeland, and it is not an excuse for policemen to mistreat journalists.

ANHRI calls on the Iraqi authorities to enforce Article 9 of the Journalist Protection Law which declares that whoever assaults a journalist while on the job or because of it must be punished and subjected to the same penalties enforced when a government official is assaulted on the job. ANHRI also reminds the government of its responsibility to provide free medical treatment for El-Rabie as a result of the injuries he suffered.

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