A demonstrator holds a sign in favor of press freedom. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Journalists being barred from covering events was the most common problem in 2018, according to figures from the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate.
The press advocacy group recorded 132 incidents of violations committed against journalists in the Kurdistan Region and disputed areas of Iraq, the Syndicate’s Nazakat Hussein Hamasaed told reporters on Sunday.
Most of the violations the documented occurred within the Kurdistan Region’s four provinces, and largely in Sulaimani.
“There were 33 cases in Erbil, 60 in Sulaimani, 25 in Duhok, 5 in Halabja, 4 in Kirkuk, 1 in Kifri, 2 in Khanaqin, 1 in Shingal, and 1 in Mosul,” Hamasaed explained.
She said that media outlets being blocked from covering events was the most common problem they saw.
“Prevention of media coverage was the most frequent violation reported, which was 70 cases,” she said, without going into detail.
The media landscape in the Kurdistan Region is heavily politicized.
In addition, “there were 43 cases of assault, insult, and beating, 13 cases of arrest, 1 case of death, 4 cases of shooting, and 2 cases of closure of television channels,” said Hamasaed.
These numbers are high for the second year in a row. In 2017, the Syndicate recorded 137 violations, up from 45 the year before. One reason given for the increase at that time was Iraq’s takeover of the disputed areas and actions committed by militias and federal forces in Kirkuk.
Violence against journalists has increased