Freedom House (Author)
The ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq created historic openings for press freedom in Iraq, but the general lack of law and order, as well as the unclear status of laws regulating the press, contributed to a volatile and uncertain environment for the media in Iraq in 2003. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the occupation authority in Iraq, issued regulations aimed at setting new standards and processes for press freedom while taking into account the ongoing conflict and unstable environment. The CPA's Order 14, issued in June, prohibits media organizations from broadcasting or publishing information aimed at inciting violence and disorder and advocating for the return of the Baath party. Order 14 declared that the CPA has the authority to close media organizations violating the order's guidelines, and the CPA exercised this authority on at least three occasions in 2003. By year's end, the CPA and the interim Iraqi Governing Council had not set new directives for the interim governing authorities concerning regulation of the media. The announcement of interim ministers in the CPA's Memorandum Number 6 of September 2, 2003, did not include the former position of minister of information. A few international press advocacy and human rights organizations pointed out that despite this new order regulating the media, several draconian laws from Saddam Hussein's rule, including the penal code and the Press and Publications Law, technically remained on the books. The Iraqi Media Network (IMN), established by the CPA in May, dominated domestic television broadcasting, though regional satellite news channels such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya attracted a strong following. In November, the CPA banned Al Arabiya from operating in Iraq because it broadcast an audiotape of Saddam Hussein calling for attacks on members of the Iraqi interim governing authority. Hostilities throughout the year claimed the lives of 14 journalists in Iraq, according to Reporters Without Borders. International human rights organizations criticized coalition forces for killing two journalists while reportedly returning hostile fire in early April at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad and for killing a cameraman in August whose camera soldiers mistook for a weapon. Despite the ongoing violence and uncertainty about the legal and regulatory framework, the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power created unprecedented openings for press freedom in Iraq, with the emergence of hundreds of new publications and the opening of Internet cafes.