Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Iraq: Iraqi TV reporter stabbed at home after receiving death threats


Reporters Without Borders condemns an attack on Al-Baghdadiya TV correspondent and freelance photographer Hussam Al-Akuli in his home in Al-Samawah (290 km southeast of Baghdad) on 23 May.

Akuli was repeatedly stabbed by armed men in military dress who ransacked his home and left with journalistic material. Akuli was rushed to hospital with stab wounds to the face and neck and multiple arm fractures.

After Al-Baghdadiya TV broadcast a report about the demolition of homes on land that is the subject of a dispute between the government and private individuals, Akuli received handwritten death threats warning him not to do any more stories on the region's endemic corruption.

“For years, Iraqi journalists have been exposed to the danger of threats, attacks and murder coming from different quarters, especially when they tackle risky subjects such as corruption,” said Reporters Without Borders research director Lucie Morillon.

“Iraq is unfortunately one of the world's most dangerous countries for media personnel. Political instability and now the crackdown related to the Syrian crisis are among the main causes of the dangers of journalism in the Iraq. The authorities must guarantee the safety of journalists, whose reporting is in the public interest.”

Reporters Without Borders issued a press release condemning the difficulties of journalism in Iraq on 6 May, three days after World Press Freedom Day. According to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), a Reporters Without Borders partner organization, there were 328 cases of abuses against journalists in 2013: 103 journalists were arrested, 162 were obstructed while trying to access information, 63 were the victims of violence and four were attacked by armed groups. A total of 71 complaints were filed against media and journalists, and four media were suspended