Journalist Support Committee: Divisive Media Reports on Iraq Need to Stop
Regional media outlets and journalists must stop the propaganda campaign against the unity of Iraqi civil society. Saudi Arabia state-controlled television channels including Saudi 24, Al Ekhbariya, Rotana Khalijia, and Al Arabiya News, should refrain from stirring up tensions and hostilities among Iraq's different religious and ethnic communities.
Through distortions and misinformation Saudi sponsored media throughout the Arab world is attempting to sow division in Iraq. This goes against the spirit of an agreement of cooperation signed by the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate and the Saudi Journalists Association which was designed to prevent inaccurate reporting on Iraq from Saudi media outlets.1
Saudi Arabia uses media outlets to promote their domestic and foreign policy agendas. Al-Arabiya, for example, was found on January 25th 2018 to have breached Rule 7.1 and Rule 8.1 of the Code of United Kingdom media regulator Ofcom. This was due to their illegal broadcasting of the Bahraini authorities recording of Hassan Mushaima’s confession which was obtained under torture.
The Journalist Support Committee urges all media outlets and journalists to conform to the highest standards of professionalism and journalistic integrity. Media outlets which violate press standards should be held fully to account for their actions, not simply issued with a fine as was the case with Al-Arabiya.2 Such violations of press standards are not accidental offences, on the contrary they are deliberate tactics.
Media outlets sponsored by the Saudi Arabian state have carried out a sustained campaign focused on causing disunity and unsettling the security and stability of Iraq, this must come to an immediate end.
Saudi Arabia has neither signed nor ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of this treaty guarantees the right to freedom of expression; Article 20 ensures the “prohibition of any propaganda for war as well as any advocacy of national or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence by law.”3
Saudi Arabia is, by virtue of being a member of the UN, obliged to uphold universal human rights standards as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).4
The Journalist Support Committee calls on Saudi Arabia to honour its duties as a member of the UN by signing and ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), thus ensuring freedom of speech is protected (Article 19) and propaganda is prohibited (Article 20).
Journalist Support Committee - Switzerland
25 January 2019