Good piece this morning on NPR Morning Edition on the new regulations the Iraqi government is forcing on journalists.
The government office that oversees the press in Iraq is the Communication and Media Commission. It was set up by the U.S., just after the 2003 invasion.
The commission recently announced that all news organizations, both Iraqi and foreign, are now required to register, pay hefty licensing fees, and sign a pledge that they won’t ignite sectarian tensions or encourage terrorism.
To be honest, this should not be surprising.
The tradition of free media independent of government control is not something seen in that part of the world.
Earlier this year, the government proposed a series of rules that severely restrict journalists.
Among the proposal submitted in February, media organizations must submit lists of their employees to the government.
Forget the privacy concerns. Think about safety of the journalists. Of the 140 journalists killed in Iraq since 2003, at least 89 were targeted for murder, according the Committee to Protect Journalists. The CPJ showed that these journalists were targeted because of sectarian or work affiliations.
And in July the government proposed a special press court to deal with complaints against journalists.
The government — as noted in the NPR piece — also keeps reporters away from attacks sites.
It is not surprising that the Iraqi government is doing these things — traditions are hard to break — but what is upsetting is that the U.S. government is not speaking out more aggressively against these restrictions of the very freedoms that were supposed to have been brought to the Iraqi people with the fall of the dictatorship.