Amnesty International said that the bombing of Iraqi television's main station in Baghdad could be a breach of the Geneva Conventions, The Guardian newspaper reports. "The bombing of a television station, simply because it is being used for the purposes of propaganda, cannot be condoned. It is a civilian object, and thus protected under international humanitarian law," the organisation said. "To justify such an attack, coalition forces would have to show that the TV station was being used for military purposes, and that the attack properly balanced the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated with the incidental risk to civilian life", Claudio Cordone, Amnesty's director for international law, added.
The International Federation of Journalists described the attack as an attempt at censorship, and said that it may have breached the Geneva Conventions. "I think there should be a clear international investigation into whether or not this bombing violates the Geneva Conventions," Aidan White, its general secretary, said.
The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said earlier this week that the aim was to end the Iraqi regime's "ability to communicate". Targets including Iraqi government communications and satellite links were described by Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for US central command, as "key regime command-and-control assets."
During the Kosovo war, Nato bombers attacked the Belgrade headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in a raid, killing 16 civilians. The bombing, justified on the grounds that television and radio were being used as a "propaganda tool of the Milosevic government" was widely condemned.
Yesterday, Amnesty was also quick to attack the Iraqi regime in the light of reports that its forces had placed military targets close to civilians, and that Iraqi soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes in order to launch surprise attacks on US and British troops.