The US Consul General in Erbil, Irvin Hicks, voiced concern over the arrest and incarceration of journalists in the Kurdistan area and criticized attempts to impede their work.
During a private discussion with a number of Kurdish media representatives, the consul stated that "the US Consulate expresses concern in the Kurdistan region of Iraq regarding the arrest and detention of journalists on charges linked to their journalistic activities. We are especially concerned about stories of journalist arrests without a fair trial and attacks and threats or searching their electronic devices without a warrant.
He continued, "We are also worried that some journalists and media outlets, particularly women and minorities, are not permitted to attend official press conferences or are given contradictory legal information that inhibits their work."
He emphasized that promoting democracy, human rights, and press freedom is one of the consulate's major priorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Together with our government, civil society, religious organization, and media partners, we encourage the Kurdistan Regional Government to ensure that democratic principles and values serve to guide the work of the media, freedom of peaceful protest, protection from gender-based violence, equal opportunities for minorities, and accountability for accused of violence against women.
"We expect the Kurdistan Regional Government to implement the Access to Information Law to increase accountability and enhance the capacity of journalists to get information from ministries," the US consul stated.