Iraq - "We won't let armed groups do as they please," interior minister tells Reporters Without Borders



    MONTREAL, Sept. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Iraqi interior minister Jawad Al-Bolani
has assured Reporters Without Borders that the murders of four employees of
independent TV station Al-Sharqiya in the northern city of Mosul on
13 September will not go unpunished. The police announced the arrest of four
suspects the day after the murders.
    "In cooperation with various other ministries, we set up a special
investigative unit more than 18 months ago to go after those responsible for
violent crimes against the press," Bolani said. "We are now ready to set up
joint structures with national organisations for the protection of journalists
in order to improve the safety of the media."
    The interior minister promised Reporters Without Borders that the murders
of the three Al-Sharqiya journalists and their driver would be solved. Several
suspects have already been arrested and wanted notices have been issued for
other individuals suspected of involvement. The motive for the quadruple
murder is not yet known.
    Asked about the results obtained in the investigations into previous
murders of journalists, Bolani said the police had often identified the
murderers but most of them were killed at the time of arrest. "These armed
groups are responsible for the deaths not only of journalists but also other
Iraqi citizens," he said. "The investigations into these murders are part of a
more global commitment on the part of the state to improve security in Iraq."
    Reporters Without Borders welcomes the Iraqi government's efforts to
combat the impunity enjoyed by those who kill journalists.
    "These investigations must be initiated systematically and must be
conducted with the utmost transparency," the press freedom organisation said.
"They must not be limited to cases of well-known journalists or spectacular
murders. The publication of the results is essential and will show that the
security forces are really determined to put a stop to this kind of violence."
    The organisation added: "We are still without any news of a total of 14
journalists and media assistants who gone missing in the course of the past
two years or so. We hope that the special investigative unit set up by the
interior ministry will also take charge of their cases."
    At least 166 journalists and 55 media assistants have been killed in Iraq
since the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003. Reporters Without
Borders is also aware of around 100 cases of journalists being taken hostage
by armed groups. The fate of 14 of these journalists is still unknown.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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