REPORTERS ON THE JOB..
BAGHDAD BOUND: For a decade, reporters visiting Baghdad have had to take taxis from Amman, Jordan - a grueling 10- to 12-hour road trip, interrupted by encounters with Iraqi officials at the border who often required financial lubrication to move the wheels of bureaucracy.
Cameron Barr, new to the Iraq story and not eager to experience this misery firsthand, was particularly happy to discover that Royal Jordanian airlines has established a regular flight. The only sop to the UN embargo of Iraq is that the flight isn't billed as a scheduled route; passengers have to buy their tickets through Royal Jordanian's chartered tour company. Sad to say, Cameron couldn't fly back to Amman because the airline's schedule didn't mesh with his. But the land trip - in a 1999 GMC Suburban traveling at nearly 100 m.p.h. on Iraq's fine highway - isn't so bad, he reports. An Iraqi official asked for "tips" after processing Cameron's passport, but Cameron didn't pay, and passed without a hitch.
PAYING UP: When Mike Crawley crossed from Rwanda into Congo, he had to pay $30 for a visa and another $5 for "formalities" at the Communications Ministry in Goma (which is the civil administration run by former Rwandan rebels). Mike said he expected that, but he had no idea they would charge him to get his obligatory press accreditation - $200 - $175 for him, and $25 for his camera. "I refused, thinking it was both too expensive and that they were trying to negotiate with me. And I didn't want to provide money for more guns." But after Mike spoke with officials and examined receipts, he found he was being charged the going rate. When Mike relayed the story to an aid worker in Bukavu, she was worried that it would discourage other journalists from coming to a place that needs attention.
Follow-up on a Monitor story.:
Battalion 745: Dan Murphy, back in Dili for the first time since being chased out by militias in 1999, visited the UN's Serious Crimes Unit. He mentioned Cameron Barr's March 2000 four-part series on Battalion 745's withdrawal from East Timor. The report chronicles eyewitness accounts of the Battalion's killings, and a claim by a former soldier that they'd received orders to wreak havoc on the territory. Dan assumed prosecutors would have studied it, since it leads to a number of witnesses. But they hadn't even seen the articles. "I sat at the computer with a prosecutor who said, 'this is good stuff, we should follow up.' Then he read the section that describes a mother waiting for the body of her son to be removed from a well. The prosecutor mumbled: 'The body is probably still there.' '' Dan says he has the impression that they probably won't be following up.
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