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Wed 19 May 2004 04:00 AM

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IPI decries US handling of media in Iraq

The International Press Institute (IPI) has decried US handling of Press rights in Iraq at its annual convention in Warsaw.

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, journalists and media executives, headquartered in Vienna, has decried US handling of Press rights in Iraq. At its annual assembly, it passed a resolution questioning the maltreatment of foreign and Iraqi journalists and the denial of the freedom of speech to the media.

It criticised the military's request to CBS News programme "60 Minutes II" to withhold pictures of prisoner abuse in Iraqi prisons. It also decried the closure of Al Hawza and action against Arabic TV channels, which it says, raises grave concerns about the ruling coalition's understanding of media rights.

"The closure of Al Hawza in March showed that bans of news media outlets are both unwise and counterproductive, no matter how inaccurate or unfair the authorities may deem their reporting or editorials to be," the resolution said.

IPI added that the coalition had conducted only "cursory" enquiries into the deaths of Iraqi and foreign journalists in incidents involving US forces, and demanded more open and thorough investigations. "Too often, soldiers have seemed indiscriminate or reckless in their behaviour toward journalists ... and there do not seem to be sufficiently strict orders and procedures to avert the repetition of tragic events," read the resolution.

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