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Friday, February 26, 2010

Iraq, Can a true democracy exist without freedom of the press?

According to The Washington Post, Iraqi lawmakers have not yet passed legislation to enforce freedom of the press guaranteed by the 2005 constitution, while a commission the report to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently unveiled guidelines that present "an alarming return to authoritarian" - last month Iraq's Communications and Media Commission prohibit journalists from withholding the names of sources and threaten action against those who publish information that incites violence.

Before the war, journalists were able to publish controversial stories if they could provide evidence. However now, in more recent years, as political competition has intensified, litigation against journalists has amplified. Violence has been reverted to in attempts to hinder journalists. For instance, journalist Imad Abadi was shot at in the head after publishing articles about government corruption. In a nutshell, there is no freedom of the press.

If the world was already concerned about Iraq's future, given Iraq's election campaign delay (Iraq's electoral commission delayed the start of campaigning for next month's parliamentary elections following a court decision to overturn a ban on candidates barred because of alleged affiliations with Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party.), a definite blow to election credibility, what do you think now? 

Also note the withdrawal of Saleh al Mutlaq and his party from Iraq's election, and his call to boycott the Iraq election. 

Can a true democracy (assuming that is the goal) exist without freedom of the press? Personally I think not.


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