Thursday, February 4, 2010
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Battling what it says are broadcasts that incite sectarian violence, Iraq wants to impose new restrictions on the media that critics say could bring back draconian censorship last seen under Saddam Hussein.
The new rules from the Communications and Media Commission are being enforced ahead of a March 7 parliamentary election, in which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will be seeking re-election.
Among the elements in the regulations that concern critics are stipulations that all media and journalists seek permission to operate in Iraq from the CMC, submit lists of all staff and equipment, and pledge not to incite sectarianism or violence.
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“CPJ’s conclusion is that the regulations represent a clear and transparent effort to control the media, undermine its independence, and allow the government to assert control over the information agenda,” Joel Simon of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in an email.
The Iraqi constitution guarantees free speech and a free press, and CMC officials say the new regulations are only intended to bring a measure of order to a chaotic industry.
But their implications worry free speech advocates and international media organizations.
This article was posted: Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm