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Key reforms suggested for a democratic Iraqi media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its affiliate, the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate (IJS), today [2 May 2013] denounced the ongoing attacks against journalists in Iraq and issued a series of recommendations to improve the safety and rights of journalists in the country.

The recommendations were made at the conference 'Iraqi Media: Ten Years On – Journalists Rights, Safety and Legal Reform' held in Istanbul, 28-29 April, to mark the 10th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq.

"Our affiliate in Iraq, the IJS, and its members have shown an extraordinary tenacity in standing up, for over a decade, to some of the toughest challenges encountered by journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “They ranged from sectarian deadly attacks making the grim toll of killed journalists in Iraq the worst in the world to their courageous fight for a free and independent media.”

“Ten years on, collective action by journalists delivers every day on many fronts, from the campaign for a strong professional culture, to building quality in media, defending public values and campaigning on self-regulation.

“Despite the still uncertain political landscape, this has placed Iraqi journalists in a key position to gather the widest coalition to help build the new democratic Iraq and look forward to the next 10 years."

Participants, including journalists, media editors, members of the Iraqi parliament, the Ministry of Human Rights and the Iraqi High Commission of Human Rights, UNESCO, the Federation of Arab Journalists and the Centre of Law and Democracy debated the reforms needed to tackle issues such as impunity, journalist safety and journalists professional and social rights in Iraq.

In a joint statement, the representatives involved remembered the 380 journalists and media workers who have lost their lives in Iraq in the last ten years, denounced the ongoing attacks and violence against Iraqi journalists and expressed their deep concern at the failure to bring killers of journalists to justice.

They recommended the following:

Safety of journalists and the Issue of Impunity
- Continued safety training for journalists, the need to establish a dialogue between, journalists, the state and media owners on the duty of care for the safety and welfare of journalists, and the requirement for authorities in Iraq to take ensure freedom of expression and bring aggressors to justice.

Journalists' Professional and Social Right and Media Development – Call on companies to co-operate with the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate to negotiate agreements providing better protection for journalists and improve their employment rights, and call for media to make all information about their ownership and mission statement available to the public.

Media Laws – Call for all decision makers in Iraq, led by the government and parliament in cooperation with the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate and other organisations, to urgently work together to ensure the adoption of a set of laws to underpin the regulation of the media and protect its independence.

Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate
– to build a database recoding the deaths and acts or violence against Iraqi journalists and work towards a strong, professional culture within journalism.

As the meeting was held in Istanbul, the Iraqi participants expressed their solidarity with Turkish journalists in prison and called on Turkish authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally.

View the recommendations in full.

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