The decision to suspend Al Jazeera’s licence to operate is deeply prejudicial in a country that badly needs a free press

Iraqi authorities have suspended Al Jazeera’s licence to operate in the country. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world largest organisation of journalists, criticised the decision as “biased and deeply prejudicial in a country that badly needs a free press”.

On 27 April the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC), a body that regulates broadcast media, shut down the Baghdad bureau of the Qatari Media Network and banned its journalists from reporting in the country. In a letter the CMC accused Al Jazeera of violating “the official codes of conduct and broadcasting rules and regulations”.

In 2014, the CMC issued guidelines for media “during the war on terror” that place local and international media under arbitrary restrictions in their reporting.

“Using the Iraqi ‘war on terror’ media guidelines to shut down Al Jazeera is a blatant attempt to put pressure on the network to report only one side of a story in a country that struggles to provide any protection to journalists on the ground”, said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “The CMC decision is biased and deeply prejudicial in a country that badly needs a free press. We call for the reopening of the station’s operation right away”.

Iraq is the most dangerous country for journalists according to IFJ 2016 report on journalists and media staff killed. More than 300 have lost their lives since 1990.

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 28 April 2016.


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Gary Herman

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