There were 138 violations of media and journalists’ rights during 2020 in Iraqi Kurdistan, including arbitrary arrests and physical attacks, a new Kurdistan Journalists’ Syndicate (KJS) report reveals.
The violations documented include 47 media coverage bans, 42 arrests, 32 attacks and insults, 8 beatings, 4 cases of threats and 3 shutdowns of media, among other concerns raised by KJS. In total, these attacks against the media affected 315 organizations and journalists across Iraqi Kurdistan.
Most of the media violations occurred in Erbil, the region’s capital, where the KJS registered 46 violations against the media and journalists. It was followed by the region of Sulaymaniyah, located in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan, with 36 cases, and Kirkuk, a region claimed both by the Kurdistan region and Iraqi government, with 25 cases.
Around one in three media violations involved banning media organizations and journalists from working. 30% of the cases involved journalists being arrested, whilst 28% were attacks or insults against media workers. Seven women journalists were amongst the victims of the abuse.
According to KJS: “At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and the measures that accompanied it from the lockdown, we expected a significant decrease in the number of violations against journalists, but unfortunately, the rate of violations increased compared to previous years. Journalists were subjected to numerous violations while covering news related to the pandemic and following up on the conditions of the injured, and they suffered from bias when obtaining information”.