The head of the United Nations cultural organisation UNESCO on Monday deplored the murders in southern Iraq on 10 January of television reporters Saafaa Ghali and Ahmed Abdul Samad and urged their killers to be brought to justice.
“I condemn the murder of television journalist Ahmed Abdul Samad and cameraman Safaa Ghali,” said Audrey Azoulay.
“I call on the authorities to pursue investigations into these killings and ensure that their perpetrators are brought to trial. Targeted attacks on media workers present an intolerable threat to press freedom and to free and open debate.”
Gunmen opened fire on Ghali and Samad as they were driving away from protests in the port city Basra which they had been covering for Iraqi satellite television channel Dijlah TV.
Dijlah TV was one of the channels nine shut down in November by Iraq's Media Commission for covering the anti-government protests that began in October and its Baghdad office was raided in November, according the Committee to Protect Journalists watchdog.
As of December, over 500 civilians and security members had been killed and some 17,000 injured in the ongoing protests in central and southern Iraq against mismanagement, corruption and joblessness, according to the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq.
At least four journalists have been killed and scores of activists are reportedly missing after being abducted by gunmen in various areas of Iraq since the protests broke out.
The Iraqi government has not named the armed groups responsible for the killings and abductions but those blamed include state-sanctioned, mainly Shia militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. The Iran-backed PMF have grown into a powerful political faction estimated to have the most seats in the Iraqi parliament