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Governments Blame for 'Refusing to Investigate Deaths of Journalists'

Jan 30, 2009, 3:42 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point's UK Correspondent

Certain governments and individual officials are accused for failing to 'thoroughly investigate the deaths of innocent independent journalist who engaged in reporting matters of national and international concerns' prompting calls in the United Kingdom for the international community to assist solve such problems without further delay.

During a Media Freedom Agenda tabled before journalists and dispatched to this correspondent, journalists from various media groups in the United Kingdom agreed that such 'silence on deliberate attacks against journalists' is unacceptable and intolerable. It was voiced that Media practitioners have all the rights to operate 'without any fear of violence'.

Such unacceptable silence, according the United Kingdom journalists, must cease with the help of international organisations such as the United Nations Security Council.

However the journalists also said they welcome the drop in numbers of journalists attacked, maimed or killed during the period of 2008 and said they cannot simply comprehend why journalists should be targeted for merely informing the population.

The journalists also said they welcome the fact that the number of journalists killed worldwide in work-related incidents during 2008 has dropped significantly.

Quoting a report by the International Federation of Journalists, the United Kingdom journalists criticised such inhumane and appalling acts against their fellow colleagues and vowed to do all what they could to avert the situation.

The journalists further mentioned that they are equally concerned that 'many journalists are killed' whilst reporting on very 'important news stories' and further stressed that local journalists covering national, local and community stories remain the main targets for 'deliberate attacks to intimidate and silence them'.

The journalists believe that 'many governments around the world do not launch serious investigations into the deaths of independent journalists' and therefore such situation must henceforth stop.

The media practitioners said: 'We believe that the freedom of journalists to work without fear is vital for any democratic society; and therefore urges the United Kingdom Government to use all international opportunities to support the freedom and safety of journalists worldwide'.

Meanwhile the United Kingdom journalists are also urging its members and other people in the country to protest to Members of Parliament about the detention of a particular Iraqi journalist seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

In a separate statement addressed to this correspondent, the journalists insisted that 35-year-old Sarwar Gareb, from 'Kurdistan and reporter of the Bo Peshawa, the newspaper of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq would faces persecution, and even death back home' and campaigned that he must not be deported.

Even though The Point gathered that certain investigators did not believe journalist Sarwar's story, his colleagues in the media insist that there is enough evidence that he has 'previously been arrested, held and tortured by the Kurdish authorities'. 

This prompted the northern organiser Chris Morley to write to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith asking for Sarwar to be 'released and for his case to be reviewed'. The letter said: 'Mr Gareb was a member of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq and prominent journalist, campaigning both professionally and politically for women's, children's and workers' rights. As such, this made him deeply unpopular with the two main political parties, the PUK and KDP - both of which imprisoned and tortured him'.

Gareb, a chemistry graduate, is currently the chairperson of the Relive magazine in Leicester that provides assistance to Kurdish people in the City. His friends told The Point that the foreign journalist is widely respected.

However the Home Office rightly and sensibly is not in the habit of making comments on individual cases, however a journalist who is closely following the case told The Point: 'Following all legal remedies, the courts in this particular case believe that the foreign journalist cannot prove fear of persecution hence his unfortunate detentions.' However the journalist failed to comment further.

Whatever the case, his colleagues in the United Kingdom informed the government that 'after suffering persecution, the journalist has since led a productive and positive life while in the UK and should remain here'.

The much respected United Kingdom journalists group that usually refuses to intervene in such situations unless it is profoundly imperative and justified are working closely with their lawyers about the case as well as directly calling on the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne 'to immediately carry out a thorough review of Sarwar's case'.

The journalists also believe that similar unfortunate issues like that of Sarwar's would encourage the government to further continue its support for the safeguard of journalists.

Last year, senior and prominent members of the United Kingdom government publicly supported a Draft created by the journalists group and reportedly forwarded it the United Nations Security Council for the prosecution of any one involved in the torture or killing of journalists around the world.

Journalists Kate Gillingham told The Point: 'Even though we very much enjoying the press freedom that we have in this country to help us criticise and scrutinise our government, we also believe there is no democracy or economic development without a free press. Therefore we wish other people around the world to enjoy the same rights for the development of their own countries. Surely this is something we want to achieve'.

Whatever the circumstances, it is a fact that journalists are still unlawfully languishing in various prisons around the world and therefore the faith of this foreign journalist allegedly running away from such dilemma and predicament still hangs in the balance. But who knows what can happen in the next few hours?