Sitting in his cell in Baghdad’s juvenile detention centre is Assaad who like hundreds of other children were recruited by armed insurgents. Assaad’s case along others are detailed in Iraq’s first investigative journalism magazine.
Published by the IMS-supported Network for Iraqi Reporters for Investigative Journalism (NIRIJ), the country’s first investigative journalism magazines (PDF) describes the case of armed children who receive money for carrying out violent attacks or for ‘picking targets’ for subsequent execution by Al-Qaeda. Uncovering stories such as these are extremely difficult and often life threatening, according to Muhammad Al-Rubai’I, General supervisor of NIRIJ.
A ‘life threatening’ occupation Because they are putting their lives at risk, some investigative journalists are forced to use pseudonyms, says Muhammad Al-Rubai’I: – It is life threatening to write about groups like Al-Qaeda and the other armed groups and militias. Under the current circumstances in Iraq, an investigative reporter may lose his life if he sheds light on the their activities.
Investigations of corruption and misuse of power is also very risky, continues Al-Rubai’I:
– In a country classified among the most corrupt countries in the world, it is extremely dangerous to write on corruption cases in which people of authority might be involved. Those people might pay 1000 USD to have a journalist killed while at the same time holding on to millions of dollars
Building trust to access information
In Iraq, the lack of a law on access to information makes it extremely difficult and time consuming for investigative journalists to conduct their work, says Muhammad Al-Rubai’I:
– Gaining reliable information takes a lot of time, effort and trying different ways to gain the information.
But by building trust and confidence, it is still possible to obtain the needed information, Muhammad Al-Rubai’I adds:
– We convince our sources of the importance of providing us with necessary information while they keep the right of non-closure of their identities.
Impact in Iraqi Kurdistan
Although only established in May last year, NIRIJ’s investigations have had an impact already, says Al-Rubai’I:
– Our story on female genital mutilation influenced the Kurdistan parliament to pass a law opposing this type of violation and making female circumcision a crime.
The Network of the Iraqi Investigative Journalism (NIRIJ) is the first network of investigative journalism in Iraq, founded on in May 2011. Supported by IMS, NIRIJ supports investigative Iraqi journalists to perform detailed investigative reports.