Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rave interviewed Joel Campagna

Rave interviewed Joel Campagna senior Program Coordinator of New York based Committee to Protect Journalists ( CPJ)

On Saturday 6 May 2006 , Hiwa Ebdulla the presenter of ROJ TV's Rave weekly program , interviewed Mr. Joel Campagna , about the situation of Journalists in Southern Kurdistan.

Here is the transcript of the interview.

Ebdulla : Good day to you Mr. Joel Campagna ! Could you please give us a general information about CPJ ?

Campagna : Good day ! The Committee to Protect Journalists was formed in 1981. It is based in New York . We are an international press freedom organisation . Our job is to defend the rights of journalists to do their jobs without fear for reprisals. Basically we use journalism to protect journalists, and that means exposing attacks against journalists , such as imprisonment of reporters for their work , censorship and violent attacks on journalists for their work. That is basically what we do. As I said we are an international organisation for freedom of the press.

Ebdulla : Could you elaborate on situation of journalists in Southern Kurdistan, because recently you have released statements concerning court cases against Kurdish journalists.

Here it seems , there are two problems unresolved, the first one is applying the clauses of Criminal Laws of ousted regime in the case of journalists and the second is the interpreting of journalists criticism as defamation. In your view how these problems could be dealt with ?

Campagna : I think how we deal with these problems is , to work with international standards , and today it has become widely accepted internationally , that journalists should never be jailed for what they write . Yet unfortunately today we see governments in the region , including Iraqi Kurdistan using laws that put journalists in jail for defamation.

We believe this is very dangerous for freedom of the press. Because, it causes a chill on the ability of journalists to report on governments, which is a major part of their job.

Therefore we are very troubled by a number of criminal defamation cases in Iraqi Kurdistan. As the case of Kamal Karim, the recent cases of Tuwana Osman and Asos Hardi , and the other case we have seen against Masture Mahmoud.

We think that the Kurdish authorities, likewise other governments, should do away with

these criminal laws and replace them with civil laws.

If some one feels their reputation has been harmed by a journalist , they should have a right to take that journalist to a court , but that should be a civil court.

Ebdulla : Thanks for your time.

Campagna : Thank you too.

Joel Campanga is


Campagna was a consultant to Human Rights Watch from 1993 to 1996 and traveled to Egypt and Lebanon as part of fact-finding missions in 1994, 1995, and 1996. Campagna has lived and studied in Egypt and has also worked as a researcher for the Cairo-based Center for Human Rights Legal Aid. He has a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs with a specialization in Middle East studies. Campagna earned a B.A. at Fordham University, where he majored in political science