October 30, 2017
A Kurdish photojournalist was stabbed to death by unknown attackers in Kirkuk province, the JFO Journalistic Freedoms Observatory’s representative informing on Monday.
JFO urgently call upon the Iraqi authorities both in Baghdad and Kurdistan to investigate the killing of journalist “Arkan Sharif” and to protect all journalists from future attacks.
JFO shocked by the news of journalist Arkan Sharif’s murder in front of his home in the city of Daquq (near Kirkuk), last Monday, the 30th of October. The killing of a journalist is an absolute low point in the escalating tensions related to the recent Kurdish independence referendum. Increasingly, the media has become a target in the escalating conflict. This must end now. Over the last 4 months (since May 2017), 3 journalists have been killed, 5 arrested and 3 journalists attacked.
Any attack on journalists and media outlets should be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and therefore we call upon Iraqi authorities to fulfill their obligation to protect journalists and stop legal actions against the media. We call upon the authorities to start a legal investigation into the death of Arkan Sharif and all journalists that are killed. In order to break the cycle of impunity in crimes against journalists, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
We equally call upon the media to adhere to their professional and ethical standards and to combat any reporting which could fuel hate speech and discrimination.
Sharif’s death comes after Kirkuk had been ravaged by turmoil as Iraqi federal forces took over the province from Kurdish Peshmerga troops earlier this month in response to an independence referendum the semi-autonomous region held in September. It also comes hours after Kurdish President Masoud Barzani announced he would not maintain his post beyond November 1st.
302 journalists were killed in conflict areas across Iraq since 2003, according to Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO)’s 2016 report. However In RSF’s press freedom index for 2017, Iraq came in the 158th place globally and 13th among Arab countries.