"We won't let armed groups do as they please," interior minister tells Reporters Without Borders
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||16 September 2008|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, "We won't let armed groups do as they please," interior minister tells Reporters Without Borders, 16 September 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d34e2bc.html [accessed 20 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
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.