Iraq Politicians Study Press Law Report

Parliamentary committee to examine IWPR report in its review of controversial press legislation.

Iraq Politicians Study Press Law Report

Parliamentary committee to examine IWPR report in its review of controversial press legislation.

Friday, 27 November, 2009

An Iraqi member of parliament involved in drafting a new press bill says his committee will consider criticisms voiced in an IWPR report before deciding whether to ratify the legislation.


IWPR-trained journalists produced a report in April warning that the proposed law, designed to protect the press, may instead obstruct it because it had failed to guarantee access to information.


“This article highlights a number of topics which we will study when amending the bill,” said Mohammed Ismail al-Khazaali, a member of parliament’s Culture and Media Committee. “We hope this will do justice to the journalists.”


Khazaali praised the article for dealing concisely with a range of issues, saying, “Each of its paragraphs could work as the title of a distinct report aimed at amending the press law.”


The report, Deep Disquiet Over Iraq Press Law, revealed how Iraqi officials feel no obligation to answer journalists’ questions, which have grown bolder as security has improved.


It cited instances where bureaucrats had allegedly impeded reporters’ access to sources. Critics of the proposed bill said it urgently needed to safeguard their right to information. The story carried a response from officials defending the bill’s provisions.


Haqi Ismail, an editor with the Al-Zaman daily, said the IWPR article was presented during a master-class in investigative journalism conducted for Iraqi journalists by the British embassy in Amman.


“It is one of the best professionally written features produced in Iraq,” he said. “It demonstrates the shortcomings as well as the strengths of the bill.”


He said the article might force a change in the proposed law “if the Iraqi daily newspapers republished it locally”.


Hassan Baghdadi, a journalist with Ishtar Satellite TV channel, said the IWPR report clearly revealed the government’s attempts to place a positive spin on the press law.


“The report is excellent and contains accurate information, known only to professional journalists,” he said.


Ibrahim al-Saraji, head of the Journalists Protection Association, said the IWPR report revealed the difficulties Iraqi journalists faced in their jobs.


He was doubtful whether the bill would ever come into effect. “The government is not serious about passing it,” he said.


Saraji said he hoped the publication of the IWPR report would “give rise to external political pressure” from international organisations that could speed the bill’s progress through parliament.

Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq
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