Friday, September 30, 2005

Rumsfeld to address reporters' safety in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - A senior Republican lawmaker won a commitment on Thursday from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to address concerns about the increased detentions and accidental shootings by U.S. forces of reporters trying to cover the Iraq conflict. Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate armed services committee, raised the issue at a hearing with Rumsfeld and top U.S. generals after receiving letters from Reuters and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and a telephone call from Paul Steiger, CPJ chairman and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.

"I raised the question of the safety of the press in Iraq and their ability to carry out the very important function of reporting to the American people," Warner told reporters after the hearing. "I've discussed it with the secretary. He's going to take it under immediate consideration," he said.

In a letter to Warner earlier this week, Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by U.S. forces in Iraq."

He urged Warner to demand that Rumsfeld address and resolve these issues "in a way that best balances the legitimate security interests of the U.S. forces in Iraq and the equally legitimate rights of journalists in conflict zones under international law."

At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed covering Iraq since March 2003.

At least seven Iraqi journalists were detained this year, with at least three documented detentions lasting more than 100 days while others spanned many weeksAt least four detainees remain in U.S. custody, including three Reuters employees and one from CBS News.

Additionally, the arrests sent the message to Iraq that the U.S. commitment to democracy and human rights was not sincere.

4 Comments:

Blogger G_in_AL said...

Just out of curiosity, and purely acidemic;

Is it the US military's responsibility to protect private citizens of other nations that decide to go to Iraq on their own?

Arab journalists are running around like the Paparazzi to every scene of violence, but then we seem shocked that the armed forces might mistake them for the same insurgents that show up on the scene of every attack and ambush rescue forces.

September 30, 2005 2:07 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

they are protected under Third Geneva Convention, art. 4(A)(4) and Protocol I, art. 79.

in short

International Rules About Journalists

Customs have changed since the 1949 conventions were signed. In the first half of this century, journalists were considered civilian members of military, often wore uniforms, and became prisoners of war when captured.

The first, second and third Geneva Conventions extend to war correspondents all the protections due to combatants. They were not to be treated as spies and, even though their notebooks and film could be confiscated, they did not have to respond to interrogation. If they were sick or wounded, they must receive medical treatment and, if they were captured, they must be treated humanely.

This changed with the adoption of the 1977 Protocols, which explicitly recognized journalists to be civilians and due to all the civilian protections.

Now, journalists must not be deliberately targeted, detained, or otherwise mistreated any more than any other civilian.

This means that journalists now have an obligation to differentiate themselves from combatants by not wearing uniforms or openly carrying firearms.


Journalists and human rights monitors should be given maximum access to assess the effect of war on civilians.

A degree of transparency of military operations is essential for demonstrating and enabling public understanding of compliance with humanitarian law. Journalists and human rights monitors should be allowed the greatest degree of access possible to military commanders, military information, and the battlefront, consistent with the security of military operations. . All parties must be prepared to respect the protection of war correspondents under international law, in particular their status as civilians and their entitlement to the status of prisoners of war.

It is a tough call G , I do understand your logic , however , the rules or engagement that the US and UK have signed up to means that you have to abide by this , and i am sure you know my opinion :-) , if you want any of the above to be different then rumsfield and co need to go back to the UN and re negotiate the Geneva convention

shooting a journalist in legal terms is the targetting of a civilian

I do except that it is not always easy to tell between journalist/insurgent , but thats the rules of war , and there is not at the end of the day and excuse to shoot them (accident or not) or imprison them (as is happening alot)

the only legal option is to take away their film and send them on there way

September 30, 2005 3:20 pm  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

Now, journalists must not be deliberately targeted, detained, or otherwise mistreated any more than any other civilian.

What if the combatants look the same? Shouldnt the journalists do somethign different to show they are not insurgents?

October 03, 2005 3:23 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

Thats the problem you have G , the terrorists/insurgents , break down in to cells of no more then 6 to 8 in a team , there is no cordination between them , they are all free to behave as they wish , the army is NOT the right tool to lead the fight , the army is of course needed at times , but if a normal country this would be a police operation and the press access would be cordinated , as in bali,madrid and london , sadly Iraq has no credible police force and therefore we have this mess

The effect of US power was shown to all in the way Iraq was taken so quickly of course

but the failure of US power has been shown by not knowing how to police a country such as Iraq ,

The failure comes from the idiotic choice to sack all Iraqi Police and army at the end of the war , and amazingly it is the old Iraqi police and army that are most (90 %) of the insurgancy your fighting

would have been cheaper to let them keep there jobs , and then the US army would not have the problem have how to not keep killing journalists

October 03, 2005 5:53 pm  

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