The British Consulate General in Erbil co-sponsored an international conference aimed at enhancing the role of media in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and promoting a better relationship between journalists and the government. The conference which was also sponsored by the Kurdish Regional Government and UN Assistance Mission in Iraq was held in Erbil on the 27th and 28th of May, and brought together Kurdish government officials, journalists, media campaigners and international media experts. HE Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, gave the opening address. Participants were engaged in a series of discussions which fed into a list of constructive recommendations issued after the conference.
The two-day conference witnessed a very healthy debate focusing on ensuring a better flow of information between the government and media outlets. Participants also discussed needed legislative steps to strengthen press freedoms and transparency. Some recommendations issued also focused on the media organisations, urging them to adhere to ethical standards, disclose sources of funding, and enhance journalists’ professional standards and working conditions.
British Consul General, Hugh Evans, attended the conference, and chaired one of the panel discussions. Speaking at the last day of the conference, Mr. Evans said “I am very pleased to be present here and to have an involvement in this important effort. Journalists here clearly have some concerns, but I am encouraged that they, government representatives and many other Kurds engaged in a constructive debate over how to develop the role of a free media in promoting Kurdistan’s democratic development. The expertise offered by the international participants, many from the UK, also helped to enrich the discussions ”.
Regarding the final conference recommendation, Mr. Evans said “I think the recommendations generated by the Kurdish participants after intense deliberations are very positive. I understand the KRG will now give consideration to the recommendations and we will be keen to see them followed through with the relevant sides. A free and independent media is a major guarantee for democratic sustainability, and the UK will always do its best to assist press freedom, and freedom of expression in general in Kurdistan, Iraq, and throughout the world.”