Afrasianet-Violence against journalists and restrictions on media have worsened in the past year in Iraq, a local rights group said, in a country already thought to have among the least press freedoms in the world.
The Journalism Freedoms Observatory (JFO), ahead of Thursday's World Press Freedom Day, voiced concern over arbitrary arrests, curbs on movement and reporting, and attacks on media workers, including by security forces.
On Tuesday evening, a reporter for Al-Rasheed satellite television channel was badly wounded when magnetic "sticky bombs" attached to his car blew up.
Majid Hamid, 32, had been visiting a relative in south Baghdad and upon departing, the bombs attached to his car exploded, according to Al-Rasheed anchor Ahmed Mullah Tallal.
"JFO has documented a noticeable increase in the rate of violence against journalists/media workers and restrictions imposed on their work," the Iraq-based media rights group said in a statement released the same night.
"Multiple bills are being introduced by the government, which threaten to severely limit freedom of the press, general freedom of expression and Internet use."
It said Iraqi security deals "with a journalist holding a camera in the same way it deals with those they find possessing car bombs or unlicensed weapons."
The JFO said three journalists were killed in attacks over the past year, while seven survived assassination bids. Thirty-one others were beaten by what the group said were uniformed and plainclothes security forces, and 65 arrested.
It had compiled 84 cases of security forces banning media coverage, 43 cases of them blocking the free movement of reporters, and 12 instances of cameras being destroyed or confiscated.
Two media organisations were raided by security forces, the JFO said, and a radio station in southern Iraq was shut down.
The JFO also voiced alarm over what it said were vague and far-reaching laws, ranging from a journalists' protection law with provisions for authorities to limit information to a bill penalising Internet use for "public interest."
"Official security decrees limiting journalists' work have been on the rise in the past year, despite government statements to the contrary," it said.
Iraq regularly ranks near the bottom of global press freedom rankings. It placed 152nd out of 179 countries in media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders' 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index, down 22 from the year before.