Journalists in Baghdad should not be targeted by the military on either side, the International Federation of Journalists has urged.
“Military leaders must make sure that journalists and media are not in their sights,” said Aidan White, general secretary of the IFJ. “Hundreds of journalists may be working in the field and their role is vital to keeping the world informed.” The IFJ made a last-minute appeal to US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and to Saddam Hussein to give instructions to army commanders to respect the rights of journalists and media staff. “Under international law, journalists should be treated as non-combatants and their rights respected,” said White.
“Even though the US and the Iraqi regime have not formally ratified the protocols to the Geneva Conventions which give protection to journalists, we appeal to them to respect the rights of reporters and media staff.”
The IFJ is also appealing for journalists with army units to be given the freedom to report without undue interference. White said: “When hostilities start it is imperative that journalists apply traditional professional standards of impartiality and do not give themselves up to military propaganda.