[JURIST] The Iraqi Interior Ministry [JURIST news archive] said Sunday that it will no longer allow news photographers or cameramen at the scenes of bomb attacks. Brigadier General Abdel-Karim Khalaf, head of the ministry's national operations center, told AFP that the prohibition was enacted in response to evidence being disturbed before the arrival of investigators, respect for the victims, and to prevent bombers from learning the extent of the aftermath of their attacks. Khalaf denied that the ban was infringing freedom of the press, but instead called it "a measure followed all over the world."
Sunday's announcement is only the most recent of a number of restrictions on the media in Iraq. Last week Iraqi Council of Representatives [official website, in Arabic] approved legal action [JURIST report] against Al Jazeera [media website, in English] for "insulting" top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani [BBC profile; official website]. In November, the parliament banned journalists from their sessions [JURIST report], as a way to prevent reporting of contradictory statements made by politicians. In early December, the Interior Ministry announced the formation of a specialized unit that would monitor news coverage [JURIST report] to correct "fabricated and false news" that the ministry claimed gave the Iraqi people the wrong impression that the situation in the country is worse than it actually is. The ministry also threatened to sue journalists who refused to comply with orders to modify their stories. AFP has more.