Tag Archives: Iraq
Today, CIMA and the Middle East and North Africa Program of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) hosted a roundtable discussion titled “The Legal Enabling Environment for Independent Media in Iraq.” The event featured Oday Hatim from the Society for Defending Press Freedom in Iraq, a NED grantee, Lisa Kovack from IREX, Asos Hardi from Awene Press and Publishing Company, and Andrea Lemieux from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. It was moderated by Rahman Aljebouri from the NED.
Kovack discussed the IREX and Centre for Law and Democracy report Freedoms in Iraq: An Increasingly Repressive Legal Net that was published in December 2011. She noted the journalists’ rights law is the only press law in Iraq. It defines a journalist as anyone who practices journalism as a full-time job, excluding part-time journalists. Iraq media are pluralistic but not free. A diverse and dynamic media emerged after the fall of Saddam Hussein, but recent legal developments have constrained Iraqi media, and news outlets are increasingly ethno-sectarian. Free speech in Iraq is supposed to extend to all citizens, not just journalists, but a restrictive Internet law criminalizes criticism of the state. Kovack suggested that having strong, clear laws on the books is a good foundation for freedom of media and expression in Iraq.
Hatim told the group that after 2003, Iraq had unprecedented expansion of media outlets and a decent margin of press freedom, but since 2008 the country has experienced a crackdown on the press. This crackdown included requiring permits to write certain articles. Iraqis thought it was just a transitional phase, but the Journalists Protection Law was passed in August 2011. Hatim claims the law is a combination of five press laws that were invoked under Saddam Hussein to repress media freedom. The law contradicts the Iraqi constitution and several international conventions signed by the Iraqi government. The centralized economy in Iraq supports pro-government newspapers; independent papers are closing down.
Lemieux reiterated Hatim’s points about the press law and spoke about the Internet law that criminalizes “harming the reputation of Iraq,” and the law can hold even Internet service providers liable. She said laws being drafted now with the intention to protect press freedoms will actually restrict them instead.
Hardi spoke about the situation of the press in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which issued a press law in 2007 that was different from the federal press law. The KRG press law forbids the jailing of journalists and does not require permission to cover news or publish articles. The Kurdish law says nothing about television, radio, or the Internet, so judges look to the federal law when dealing with those media. The Iraqi government has made some efforts to track activists online via Facebook, blocked some sites, and subjected bloggers and activists to offline harassment, but there is no indication the efforts are very sophisticated. Hardi believes Iraq needs international support, and that the international community should put pressure on Iraqi authorities to change the law. He said the government doesn’t care as much about how it is viewed by its citizens as it does how it is seen by its international partners.
Participants agreed that the international community could do more to pressure the Iraqi government to change the press law, support the training of judges and media lawyers, provide assistance to independent media outlets, and share best practices and experiences in drafting media-related legislation.
For further information on the media environment in Iraq, see CIMA’s report Iraq’s News Media After Saddam: Liberation, Repression, and Future Prospects.
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Open Society Foundations’ Mapping Digital Media Project
A free press and access to information are inherent traits of democratic societies. As technological changes have had a tremendous impact on the way citizens consume news and information, traditional media outlets have been forced to rethink the way they gather and present news.
Digital technology presents an opportunity for a golden age for information, but with it comes risks. The democratic values of media pluralism, transparency and accountability, editorial independence, and freedom of expression and information can be threatened by a lack of understanding about new technologies. Policymakers across the globe often struggle to grasp new technological concepts, which can lead them to draft laws that run contrary to the values of freedom of information and expression.
The Open Society Foundations’ Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering up to 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs. The project aims to build bridges between researchers and policymakers, activists, academics and standard-setters across the world. It also builds policy capacity in countries where this is less developed, encouraging stakeholders to participate and influence change. At the same time, this research creates a knowledge base, laying foundations for advocacy work, building capacity and enhancing debate.
Currently, reports are available for Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Mexico, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Others will be released as they are completed.
In addition to the country reports, the Open Society Media Program has commissioned research papers on a range of topics related to digital media. These papers are published as the MDM Reference Series.
———————————————————————————————————————————————-Digital Media and the Elections in Russia
Russian Court Fines Election Monitor $1,000
A Moscow court on Friday ruled that the country’s sole independent election watchdog had broken Russian law by publishing citizens’ complaints of campaign abuses during the run-up to parliamentary elections this weekend. Friday’s court ruling related to Golos’s “Map of Violations,” which has attracted more than 4,500 reports alleging illegal campaign tactics, including stories of employers threatening workers with pay cuts and local officials ordering business leaders to pressure subordinates. (New York Times, 12/3)
Critical Websites Hacked, Down on Election Day
Popular Russian media websites, the major LiveJournal social network and the website of the country’s biggest independent election watchdog, were inaccessible in hacking attacks for several hours on Sunday in what their employees said was an attempt to jam information on parliamentary elections. (Ria Novosti, 12/4)
Massive DDOS Attack on Independent Media during Russian Duma Election
I’m just waking up to discover that, coinciding with today’s Russian Duma elections, there has been a series of major DDOS attacks that have at times brought down a number of leading independent media outlets, the LiveJournal blogging platform, and the online ‘map of [election] violations’ by election watchdog group Golos. (Internet and Democracy Blog, 12/4)
The Internet’s Watching
Past Sunday’s Duma Elections Were the First Russian Elections to Come Under So Much Scrutiny in RuNet, Social Networks and the Russian Blogosphere. (Ria Novosti, 12/5)
Journalists and Bloggers Arrested during Moscow Demonstration
Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s arrests of reporters, photographers and bloggers while covering a street protest in Moscow against the results of the previous day’s parliamentary elections and the irregularities that accompanied the polling. (Reporters Without Borders, 12/6)
A Blogger Could Start Russia’s Arab Spring
The new face of the Russian opposition is a young whistle-blowing, shareholder activist, muckraking blogger by the name of Alexei Navalny. At 2:15 p.m. on Monday, he called his huge internet following to a 7 p.m. demonstration at the Chistye Prudy park to protest “the rotten total fabrication of Moscow election results.” He wondered why some Moscow districts reported 20 percent while identical districts next door reported 70 percent votes for United Russia. (Forbes, 12/6)
Social Media Makes Anti-Putin Protests “Snowball”
Artyom Kolpakov used to shrug when he came across occasional appeals on social media sites to protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his government. “I didn’t see the point really,” he said. But something changed when, clicking through amateur videos and online testimonies documenting cases of ballot-stuffing and repeat voting, he saw others shared his outrage at Putin’s party’s victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election. (Reuters, 12/7)
The Internet, the Ballot Box and the Russian Presidency
VIDEO: In Moscow today, protesters took to the streets for a second day of demonstrations over Russian elections on Sunday that were marred by widespread reports of fraud and attempts to suppress election monitoring — the climax of a conflict over political power in that country that has been playing out on the Internet for months. (Tech President, 12/7)
Due West: Russia’s Internet Generation Finally Finds Itself
“You know what I did on election day? I started checking where my friends were via Foursquare”. Noticing the slightly bemused look of an Internet illiterate, Anton Nosik, Russia’s number one Internet guru explained it to me: “It is an application which allows you to see in real time where people you follow on Twitter were. And you know what I saw? Page after page of “I am at a polling station number so and so” tweets. Most of them are thirtysomethings and the majority were voting for the first time.” (Ria Novosti, 12/7)
Russian Social Network: FSB Asked It To Block Kremlin Protesters
A Russian social-networking website part-owned by London-listed Mail.Ru Group said Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, has asked it to block the online activities of political protest groups during a tense period following parliamentary elections. (Wall Street Journal, 12/8)
Russians Fight Twitter and Facebook Battles over Putin Election
Protests against president’s party escalate across social media with flood of automated counterattacks and alleged hacking. (The Guardian, 12/9)
CENTRAL ASIA: Censorship and Control of the Internet and Other New Media
Briefing paper by International Partnership for Human Rights, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan. (November 2011)
ENGLAND: Reading the Riots: Investigating England’s Summer of Disorder
A study of the causes of the English riots. (The Guardian, 12/7)
IRAQ: Audience Analysis The Role of Journalism and Social Media in the Consumption of News in Iraq
Newly released IREX audience research shows that while Iraqis continue to rely on television as their primary source for news and information, social media and mobile devices play an important role in the consumption and distribution of news and information in Iraq. (IREX, December 2011)
LATVIA: Mapping Digital Media: Latvia
The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs. (Open Society Foundations, December 2011)
MIDDLE EAST NORTH AFRICA: Media As Key Witnesses and Political Pawns: Upheaval in the Arab World
A year after the start of democratic uprisings in the Arab world, Reporters Without Borders takes stock of censorship and violations of free speech during the “Arab Spring.” (Reporters Without Borders, November 2011)
RUSSIA: Russian Digital Dualism: Changing Society, Manipulative State
The article studies the effect of the Internet on Russian society in the 2000s, as well as the complex relations between the Internet, groups of digital activists and the manipulative state. The Internet creates new spaces for politicians and proto-politicians to practice digital activism, develop relationships of trust and new identities. At the same time, it becomes an object for increasing neo-Nazi and Islamist mobilization, and subject to greater control by a government worried by the inability to dominate this sphere. (Russia/NIS Center, December 2011)
UNITED STATES: Exploring the Digital Nation
Report by the Economics and Statistics Administration, the National Telecoms and Information Administration, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. (November 2011)
VENEZUELA: Law on Social Responsibility of Radio, Television and Electronic Media
ARTICLE 19 analysed the Law on Social Responsibilities on Radio, Television and Electronic Media of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for its compliance with international standards on freedom of expression. The Law, published on 22 December 2010 is an amendment to the 2004 Law on Social Responsibility on Radio and Television. While proponents had applauded the 2004 Law as modernising the country’s communication structure, critics had seen it as a naked attempt to gain control over private broadcast media. (Article 19, November 2011)
Global Censorship Update
View Global Censorship Update – December 2011 in a larger map