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Two deaths bring toll of journalists and media assistants killed to 12 since start of year

Reporters Without Borders expresses alarm at number of reporters killed in the conflict

The shooting deaths of two journalists from Polish public television TVP (photo) bring to at least 25 the number of journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since March 2003. Reporters Without Borders calls on all parties to respect the safety of journalists covering the conflict.

Waldemar Milewicz - 6 ko
Waldemar Milewicz

Two journalists working for Polish public television TVP, Polish national Waldemar Milewicz (photo) and Polish-Algerian Munir Buamran, were shot and killed on 7 May in Latifiya, south of Baghdad. Polish cameraman Jerzy Ernst, was reportedly taken to hospital after being hit in the arm.

 

"These latest deaths brings to at least 25 the toll of journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. This shocking statistic means Iraq is now one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists," said Reporters Without Borders.

"Twelve journalists and media assistants have been killed since 1st January 2004, ten Iraqis and two foreigners. The TVP reporters are the first foreign journalists to be killed in the country in 2004."

"We call on all parties to the conflict to respect the status of journalist as protected civilians under Article 79 of the first additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions," said the international press freedom organisation.

"Iraqi and foreign journalists are exposed to a whole range of risks. Since the start of the war they have been the target of bandits and thieves as well as groups of combatants who have targeted Iraqi journalists working with the US-financed media."

"American shooting also caused the death of at least six reporters, after which the Pentagon failed to order any impartial and rigorous investigations," said Reporters Without Borders. At least six journalists - three Czech, two Japanese and one French - have been taken hostage and released in 2004. Working in such dangerous conditions clearly severely limits the ability of journalists to provide the public with news," it said.

A team of three TVP journalists, reporter Waldemar Milewicz, picture editor Munir Buamran and cameraman Jerzy Ernst, were ambushed as they travelled in a black Japanese-made car some 30 km south of the Iraqi capital. They were in the same area in which guerrilla forces have set several previous ambushes, in one incident killing seven Spanish intelligence agents last November.

Mounir Bouamrane - 6.7 ko
Mounir Bouamrane

An Iraqi fixer with the TV crew, Assir Kamel Al-Kazzaz told AFP what happened : "A car came up behind us and its occupants opened fire, killing the Polish journalist," he said. "We stopped and I got out with the Algerian journalist and the Polish cameraman but the car turned around and they opened fire again killing the Algerian journalist and injuring the Polish one."

Waldemar Milewicz, 48, was a leading journalist with TPV, and had reported on conflicts in the Balkans, Cambodia, Rwanda and Chechnya. He received a number of awards for his work and in 2001 was voted Poland's Journalist of the Year. The crew had left Warsaw on 5 May.

 

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world, as well as the right to inform the public and to be informed, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reporters Without borders has nine national sections (in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Montreal, Moscow, New York, Tokyo and Washington and more than a hundred correspondents worldwide.

Reporters Without Borders 2002

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