Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
Draft media bill must meet journalists demands, not authorities14 August 2013
Translated by:Mehrdad Safa
Khabarnegaran.info-Saba Etemad :The draft Comprehensive System of Media Bill was revealed to the Iranian media during the last days of Ahmadinejad’s government. Hossein Entezami, on behalf of the Press Supervisory Commission, has called for media experts to offer their opinion. But why the draft Bill was introduced at such time when Ahmadinejad’s government had less than a month? Is it a political move?
“It was a political move with no use for the press, because Ahmadinejad’s tenure is about to end, and the draft bill definitely cannot make it to Parliament,” said Rajabali Mazroui, a previous board member of now-defunct Iranian Journalists Association, who closely had followed the passage of current press law in force.
“It also takes at least six months for the new government to bring this bill before Parliament,” added Mazroui. “And I don’t have extra time to waste on a fruitless move made by an individual who does know nothing about press freedom.”
“The least we can say about introducing the new Comprehensive System of Media Bill is that, if not opportunistic, it is tactless,” says Abdolreza Tajik, Iranian journalist based in France.
Iranian Journalist website(khabarnegaran.info) interviewed with Abdolreza Tajik, the winner of Reporters without Borders’ 19th Press Freedom Prize, to discuss the new draft Bill on media.
What do you expect from the new government to do about the draft Bill?
If the new government is a real proponent of freedom of information, they must draw up a draft with the help of journalists and legal experts that at least stands up for the basic rights of journalists. After all, the Bill should address the collective demand of Iranian journalists.
Which sections of the draft Bill is open to strident criticism, needing major amendments?
The Article 14 of the draft Bill says that “the senior managers of media and places of publication are obliged to regularly deliver their content to all of these authorities at no expense: 1. Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, 2. Islamic Parliament, 3. Judiciary of province center where the newspaper is printed 4. Information Ministry. That the media are obliged to send a copy of their issue to these four authorities indicates a tighter media control under securocrats.
Another notable thing is the procedure for acquiring the license for publishing a media, which is very complicated compared to developed countries.
Ambiguous words with weak legal connotation have been frequently used in this draft, like ‘obscene images’, ‘defamatory’, ‘hostile political factions’, etc. What does this kind of word usage indicate?
Using such vague words in the letter of law opens the way for different, and of course arbitrary, interpretations. For instance, what are these obscene images? Who decides that what images are or are not? Or is a political faction like Islamic Iran Participation Front illegal – a party that has been banned by military forces but not given a court ruling?
Many journalists have been imprisoned on the charge of acting against national security. Does this crime carry any meaning?
The charge of acting against national security has been constantly brought against journalists during the several past years. According to the new draft bill, the journalist who has been tried for this charge will be divested of the right of license acquisition.
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: How is life for Iranian journalists after prison? Does their attitude toward their journalism – the profession that put them in jail – change? Are they more conservative than before? Or bolder?
Khabarnegaran – Niki Azad: He has been put in jail three times for his journalist writing, though he says that jail has not made him feel disappointed with the profession of journalism.