International press freedom body, Reporters Without Borders (RWB), on Wednesday sharply criticized Iraqi authorities for seeking to use the law to clamp down on criticism in the press and to intimidate and arrest critics among journalists.
"Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the growing hostility that the Iraqi authorities are displaying towards critical journalists," RWB said in a statement here.
Citing a series of intimidation tactics, the press freedom body said arrest warrants have been issued against journalists even for hosting TV programmes in which the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki or Al-Maliki himself have been criticised.
The Prime Minister himself has filed complaints against press professionals after he was taken to task in TV programmes, where he was called "corrupt" and "sectarian", RWB said in its statement.
It was also pointed out that the criticism was not necessarily always from the journalists but by their guests who are not under the control of the TV show host.
"We firmly condemn this flagrant attack on freedom of information, which violates article 38 of the Iraqi constitution, and the international undertakings that have been signed and ratified by the country's authorities," RWB said of the actions against the press.
"We urge the authorities to stop using defamation complaints in an attempt to get the judicial apparatus to gag critics. The judicial proceedings that have been initiated against these journalists must be abandoned," it added.
RWB and the Journalistic Freedom Observatory have written a joint letter to Iraq's Judicial authorities to complain about the pressure being put on journalists and the threat to freedom of information in Iraq