On 3 May, the annual World Press Freedom Day is celebrated around the world. This year, IMS will be participating in a large-scale conference under the theme of Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies in Baghdad, Iraq.
In close collaboration with international and local partners, IMS is celebrating the day in Baghdad with a series of lectures and events focusing on youth and social media, safety of journalists and media workers, and professional and ethical standards.
Increased pressure on online media
One of the events will be hosted by the IMS-supported Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM) which will give young Iraqi bloggers and social media experts a chance to discuss and present both their innovative ideas and the problems with the increased pressure they face every day from the Iraqi authorities and legal system.
Underlining the need for increased attention to online and social media, not just as tools for democratic change, but also as new ways of cracking down on media, the lectures in Baghdad will focus on a newly proposed new cybercrime law in the country.
If adopted, the new law may deem it a crime punishable by life imprisonment, to use the internet to "harm the reputation of the country" or to broadcast "false or misleading facts" intended to "damage the national economy".
The proposed piece of legislation also stipulates that "whoever violates principles, religious, moral, family, or social values or personal privacy through information networks or computers in any way" can be sentenced to a year in prison.
Supporting bloggers and strengthening social media
Earlier this year, over 60 Iraqi bloggers came together in Iraqi Kurdistan's city of Sulimanyah to exchange experiences and tools. Organised by the IMS-supported Iraqi Network for Social Media, the conference brought together bloggers from around Iraq who attended sessions on legal protection, training workshops on writing, technical matters and networking.