“NIRIJ” Investigative Journalism Network participated in a meeting organized by the Association for the Defense of Freedom of the Press, on June 24, to discuss the reality of the Iraqi press, the challenges it faces, the violations faced by Journalists, and what can be done in the legal framework and at the level of government measures to improve that reality.
The meeting, which was held with the aim of forming a lobby of Journalists belonging to several institutions, to press for changing the reality and environment of Journalism, to exchange ideas on ways to achieve this, and to agree to submit recommendations and demands to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, to improve the reality of the press and Media and stop the serious violations Journalists are exposed to.
Journalists and academics announced during the second forum for professional Journalism, which was held in Sulaymaniyah between 10-13 January, to “form a press lobby” that includes public opinion leaders, press organizations, independent Media and academics, with the aim of achieving and maintaining “Freedom of Journalism” according to what is stipulated in the Iraqi constitution. However, these efforts were hampered by the decline in communication between Journalists as a result of closures and curfews in light of the Corona pandemic.
Speaking during the meeting, Haider Karim, head of the Journalists’ file in the UNAMI Human Rights Office, Mustafa Nasser, President of the Association for Defending Freedom of the Press, Zikra Sarsam, President of the Burj Babel Foundation, Saman Noah from the NIRIJ Network, Journalist Ahmed Hassan, head of the Amarchi Center, and Ahmed al-Rekabi, a specialist Journalist in the field of mobile Journalism, the Journalist trainer Tahseen al-Zarghani, the representative of the Press Defense Association in Basra, Shihab Ahmed, and Ghaith Saadoun, the association’s executive director.
The speakers focused on the hard conditions facing Journalists, including assassinations, kidnappings, death threats, pressures, violations of constitutional rights, suspension of work, closure of institutions, storming and destruction of press offices, and they pointed to the legal and administrative aspects that need review, and talked about the available means and what can be done to change that reality.
During the meeting, the executive director of ” NIRIJ” network, Saman Noah, presented an intervention on the most prominent challenges facing professional Journalists in Iraq and the Kurdistan region, especially freelancers and those working in the field of producing in-depth press reports and investigative investigations.
Noah said that the network is under pressure because of the important and sensitive investigations it is carrying out in political, security and economic files, and that its Journalists who work on producing sensitive reports and investigations are forced not to reveal their real names, which prompted the network recently to publish a series of investigations without mentioning the real names of their owners, or just noting that the investigation was carried out by the Nineveh Investigative Team, or the Baghdad Investigative Team.
The executive director of ” NIRIJ” network revealed that the network’s page on Facebook had been exposed to attempts to stop it, stressing that these pressures would not prevent the publication of NIRIJ’s reports and investigations on a large scale, which was shown by its recent investigations about the situation in Nineveh, which raised great responses and it was re-published on dozens of on-line platforms, especially since NIRIG’s press materials are considered as an accurate documentary reference and a reliance source because of its in-depth investigation of all the information it publishes.
During the meeting, a number of recommendations and demands were discussed that will be presented to Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi and the advisory and Media team that works with him.
The list of recommendations and demands will be presented to press institutions, centers and networks concerned with Journalistic work to discuss their details before they are finally approved.