Media freedom under spotlight

PM Sudani congratulates journalists on Iraqi Press Day

BAGHDAD — On the occasion of the 155th anniversary of Iraqi Press Day, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani praised journalists for their pivotal role in promoting democratic values and the right to information. The annual event commemorates the launch of Iraq’s first newspaper, Al-Zawra, in 1869.

In a statement released on the social media platform X, Al-Sudani also honored the memory of journalists who have died in the line of duty. “We remember, with appreciation and reverence, the martyrs of journalism and their sacrifices in the service of truth and the defense of Iraq,” he said.

The challenges facing the press in Iraq remain severe. According to the latest report by Reporters Without Borders, Iraq is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in press freedom, a decline of two spots from last year. The report cites terrorism, political instability, and protests as ongoing threats to journalists, compounded by inadequate protection from the government.

The report also notes significant media polarization in Iraq, influenced by political interests, which hampers the pursuit of objective journalism. Independent media outlets are particularly rare on a national scale. Since 2019, journalists who have advocated for their rights have faced threats, and media organizations that report on anti-corruption efforts have been subjected to attacks.