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The IFJ calls for an end to media repression in the Middle East and the Arab world

(IFJ/IFEX) - 7 May 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for an end to media repression in the Middle East and the Arab world following the launch of Breaking the Chains, the IFJ's annual review into press freedom violations in the Middle East and Arab world.

The review documents the violations of journalists' rights, with a focus on the use of the law to punish journalists for their work. It reveals that despite commitments by governments to respect media freedom, many journalists are still being prosecuted and jailed across the region each year.

"This report reveals not only the continued abuse of the law by the authorities but, more importantly, how journalists and their unions are fighting back to create a free and democratic media environment," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "While there are horrendous situations facing the media in Iran and Yemen, the other story here is that the rise in prosecutions is the response to a more active, independent and courageous journalism emerging across the region. Journalists are responding to popular demand for independent news coverage that tackles government corruption and promotes public debate."

The report was launched today in Cagliari-Sardinia, at a conference gathering over 100 media professionals to discuss media safety, freedom and diversity in the Mediterranean and neighboring zones of conflict. The launch came immediately after World Press Freedom Day, a day the IFJ marked by spotlighting the crisis in Iran, where over a hundred journalists have been detained for varying periods of time since the disputed elections in June, including several members of the leadership of the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ). As of today, Badrosasadat Mofidi, the AoIJ General Secretary, has been detained without charge for over four months, including long spells in solitary confinement.

Yemeni journalists have suffered from the growing instability of the country, with reports of beatings, abductions, and threats. The review highlights the case of Mohamed Al Maqaleh, abducted by armed men in September and missing for four months, where he was beaten and tortured and suffered fake executions before the government finally admitted it was holding him.

There were numerous cases of intimidation and jailing of outspoken journalists across the region. Morocco, a country with a proud record of independent journalism and progressive governance, has witnessed an alarming rise in charges against journalists, imprisonment and seizures of newspapers. Harassment and prosecution of journalists have reached astonishing levels in Iraq.

With this review, the IFJ has called on national governments in the region, the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, and the African Union, to take urgent measures that can lift the pressures journalists are facing in the region.

Click here to read the full report
breaking_the_chains.pdf (1026 KB)

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