Media restrictions in Iraq
Next month it will be seven years since British and American forces invaded Iraq. Under Saddam, the international media was subject to censorship, with minders assigned to news organisations to "monitor" their reporting. More than 250 journalists have died covering Iraq's transition to democracy since the invasion in 2003. Now, seven years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi authorities are threatening to reimpose serious restrictions on the media.
The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission was set up by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004. Its purpose was to regulate the media in Iraq - in itself, a perfectly legitimate aspiration. But the international media, including the BBC, are concerned that new plans outlined by the Iraqi authorities owe more to a desire to control and censor the news media rather than to enshrine Iraq's constitutional right to free speech and a free press.
The Iraqi authorities want the BBC and other news organisations to disclose full lists of staff, an act we believe might endanger those who work for us. The Iraqi authorities are demanding journalists reveal their sources in response to complaints, in violation of the journalist's age-old responsibility to protect those who come to us with stories. And they want to prevent the international media from reporting stories that might incite violence or sectarianism, but have failed to clarify what constitutes "incitement" or "sectarianism".
Iraq remains a difficult place in which to operate. The political environment is tense, with a general election in Iraq just a month away, where even reporting death-tolls is viewed as controversial, and could lay the international media open to censorship.
In a conference centre in London, the Iraq war inquiry is poring over the detail of the Britain's decision to go to war. Those who prosecuted the case for war talked of freeing Iraq from intimidation. Today, there is a risk of a return to the days of Saddam-style "regulation" and censorship.
Journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair - we don't want, and don't ask, for special treatment. However, we do want the ability to operate freely, without fear or favour. Our audiences deserve nothing less.
Jon Williams is the BBC World News editor.