Iraq Falls in World Press Freedom Index

By John Lee.

Iraq has fallen in the World Press Freedom Index for 2020, ranking 162nd out of 180 countries, down six place on last year.

The result puts Iraq behind countries such as Turkey and Sudan, but ahead of Iran and Libya. First place went to Norway, with North Korea coming last.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB, RSF), which publishes the annual study, said:

"The worsening conditions for journalists in Iraq since protests erupted in 2019 has put the country among those coloured black in the Index's world map, which signifies "very serious".

"Five journalists have been killed in just four months. The various militias at large in the country constantly threaten the lives of journalists in an effort to prevent them covering the protests, repeating the allegations and also demonstrating the same ferocity as the police, who use live ammunition.        

"The Iraqi government itself plays a full part in obstructing journalists. At least 10 news organizations have been suspended for covering the demonstrations in a manner deemed unfavourable by the authorities. Since the start of the health crisis, the authorities have been focusing on reports about the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The Communications and Media Commission (CMC) decided to suspend the news agency Reuters for publishing a story that quoted three unidentified doctors as saying they had been ordered not to talk to the media about the crisis. The autonomous region of Kurdistan is also in the firing line.

"The health ministry ordered the closure of the television channel NRT after it broadcast a report that the authorities had deliberately overestimated the number of people infected in order to discourage people from demonstrating."

More details here.

(Source: Reporters Without Borders)

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