Iraq - CBS interpreter's murder brings toll of journalists and media workers killed since start of war to 200



    MONTREAL, Aug. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay
on learning of the murder of Anwar Abbas Lafta, an Iraqi translator and
interpreter employed by the US television network CBS News. Lafta's body was
found on 25 August, five days after he was abducted in Baghdad. His death
brings the number of journalists and media workers killed in Iraq since the
start of the US-led invasion in March 2003 to 200.
    "We are appalled by this latest murder and by the new overall toll," the
press freedom organisation said. "The number of journalists and media workers
killed since the start of 2007 now stands at 49. This unbearable litany of
death must stop and for that to happen, the Iraqi authorities must at least
try to adopt measures to combat violent crime and impunity. Those who murder
journalists in Iraq unfortunately have nothing to fear from the police and
judicial authorities."
    No war has ever been as deadly for the press. Whether foreigners or
Iraqis, journalists are seen as a key targets. Seventy-three per cent of the
journalists killed in Iraq have been directly targeted. This is much higher
than in previous wars, in which journalists were above all the victims of
collateral damage and stray bullets.
    Iraqi journalists have been among the leading victims of this war.
Eighty-eight per cent of the journalists and media workers killed have been
Iraqis. They are singled out by armed groups, often because they work for
foreign news media. At the same time, they do not get the same protection that
visiting foreign correspondents receive.
    Most of the 200 media fatalities have taken place in Baghdad (110 cases)
or near the capital (34 cases). Another 45 cases have taken place in the north
of the country, above all in the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.
    More journalists are also taken hostage in Iraq than anywhere else in the
world. A total of 84 journalists and media workers (64 per cent of them
Iraqis) have been kidnapped there in the past four years. Only about half of
them have been freed. At least 27 have been the victims of execution-style
murders, and 14 are still being held by their abductors.
    Lafta was kidnapped by a group of 10 gunmen who forced their way into his
Baghdad home on 20 August, beat his brother and shot and wounded his sister.
Lafta was the only one they took away. CBS News said his abductors contacted
the family several times to demand a ransom. The police eventually found his
body in the east Baghdad district of Sadr City.

    Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has
representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has
more than 120 correspondents worldwide.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Directrice générale, Reporters
Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514) 521-7771,
rsfcanada@rsf.org

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