To journalist rights activists, advocacy organizations, embassies, consulates and representatives of foreign countries in Iraq and Kurdistan

With utmost concern Metro Center for Journalist right and Advocacy, sending you this letter in order to inform you of the hurdles created by the Iraqi authorities for the correspondents of the international media outlets wishing to visit the Kurdistan region of Ira.

According to information obtained by some journalists and media outlets, the visa process for journalists and other media personnel wishing to visit Erbil is restricted via a number of obstacles. The Iraqi Embassy is also probing the journalists and media personnel in order to find out the content of their reports. If their reports relate to the Kurdistan region, the visa application can be rejected. The visa process for the journalists who wish to visit the Kurdistan region takes 3 weeks and sometimes 2 months. In some cases, it could simply be rejected.

Previously, the Kurdistan Region facilitated the visa process for journalists from the European Union, the United States, Canada and other Western countries. They were given the freedom to stay in the Kurdistan region without residency for a period of 40 days. Now, the journalists obtain an Iraqi visa for 15 days since the Kurdistan residency is not recognized in any part of Iraq and they must obtain Iraqi residency. They are not allowed to leave the airport without it.When they are accompanied by Kurdish journalist, their visas are rejected.

The obstacles created by the Haider Al Abadi government is not only for visas. Unfortunately, this adverse environment has compelled journalists especially those who report on the sanctions imposed upon the Kurdistan region and who criticize the Iraqi government to leave Iraq before broadcasting or publishing their reports. The Metro Center for Journalist Rights and Advocacy is asking you to make an effort to end all of the strict measures being employed against journalists visiting the Kurdistan region and to revoke procedures that discriminate against the media.

Metro Center
Journalists Rights & Advocacy
Metro Center was founded by a group of journalists in 2009, in cooperation with Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). The Institute had supported the center during the first year of its establishment.