October 27, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Mosul, cemetery for freedom of information

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its partner organization in Iraq, the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), are publishing a devastating report about media freedom in Mosul since Islamic State seized control of this northern city.

Journalists and other media workers have been among Islamic State’s priority targets since the jihadi group began its offensive in northwestern Iraq.

According to JFO’s tally, 48 professional journalists, citizen-journalists and media workers have been abducted since June 2014 and at least 13 of them have been executed in Mosul.

Some of the kidnap victims have been released, but there is no news of 10 other professional and non-professional journalists still held by IS. A total of 60 journalists and media workers have fled the city. Some who went back paid for this mistake with their lives.

We remind all parties to the war in Iraq that they are required by UN Security Council Resolution 2222 of 2015 and the Geneva Conventions to respect journalists, and we reiterate our appeal to the Security Council to refer the situation in Iraq to the International Criminal Court in order combat impunity for crimes of violence against journalists,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East and Maghreb desk.

The JFO’s field investigation shines light on the terrible fate suffered by journalists since Islamic State took Mosul and the jihadi group’s determination to maintain absolute control over information coming out the city. This has also been seen in the way it treated the studios and equipment of local media outlets as the spoils of war, taking them over in order to pursue its information offensive.

Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul fell to IS on 10 June 2014. Since then, independent media activity has been non-existent. All media outlets have been taken over and are now used to put out the jihadi group’s message. All journalists still in the city have had to stop working to avoid being the target of reprisals.

This joint report lists the names of each of Islamic State’s victims together with a short biography. For safety reasons, some of the journalists interviewed asked not to be identified.

Although Mosul has been an information “black hole” since June 2014, RSF and JFO have together done everything possible to verify all the information in the report.

Iraq is ranked 156th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

English version of the report

Arabic version of the report