Iraqi Army forces detained a correspondent for the Biladi satellite television channel on Thursday in Babil Province while he attempted to cover an official ceremony, according to a strongly worded statement issued by an Iraqi media rights watchdog.
The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, an Iraqi press freedom monitor and advocate, issued a statement in Arabic reporting that Ahmad 'Imad was detained without cause as he covered the security transition of the Hashemiyat area, in southern Babil province.
'Imad was accosted suddenly by Iraqi soldiers who surrounded him and ordered him to lie on the ground, JFO writes. Another Biladi channel correspondent told the JFO by telephone that “soldiers took him to their military vehicles after ordering him the first time to lie on the ground, and started to hurl insults and obscenities at him while he was trying to understand why they were acting this way with a journalist covering the activities of the Iraqi Army.”
Soldiers started to threatened to beat him with their rifle butts if he spoke, forbade him from sitting down, and left him for a whole hour in the main courtyard of the military base in the “burning sun after refusing his request for a bit of water” to drink.
JFO condemns the “irresponsible behavior” on the part of members of the Iraqi military, demanding that the Ministry of Defense discipline the unit involved. The group goes on to point out orders by Iraqi Prime Minster Nuri al-Maliki in the spring of 2008 warning of punitive measures for those proven to violate the rights of journalists.
The watchdog organization, which recently launched a program in collaboration with the Iraqi Interior Ministry to curb violations against journalists, alleges that "The Defense Ministry fails in stopping its employees violations against journalists."
JFO concludes with the allegation that the Defense Ministry has not implemented the PM’s directives in a serious way, going on to accuse the ministry of leaving unresolved allegations by Iraqi journalists who were reportedly detained and harassed by Iraq Army troops in the Defense Ministry’s headquarters in Baghdad last month, while attempting to covering a press conference.