Sulaymaniyah / 02.18.2013
The Press Freedom Advocacy Association In Iraq held a seminar on the proposal for a “First Amendment to the law of the rights of journalists,” on Saturday, February 16, 2013, in the city of Sulaimaniya – Kurdistan Region in the presence of about 50 journalists and lawyers from different areas of the region.
This seminar is part of a new strategy that this association and other activists are pursuing after the Federal Court has been unsympathetic with protecting freedom of expression in Iraq.
Last year, the association submitted a lawsuit to repeal the “journalists’ rights law” on behalf of its members on 26 April 2012, affirming that the law violated four articles of the Iraqi Constitution, especially article 46 which states that laws must not infringe upon the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Iraqi Constitution. The “Journalists’ Rights Law” was passed by the Iraqi Parliament in August of 2011. The law reinstates five regulations of the former regime, including the “Iraqi Penal Code of 1969,” that contain dozens of articles that permit the executive branch to punish journalists with penalties – ranging from a fine to death – at any time.
Discussions focused on the definition of journalism, where participants stressed the need to have a comprehensive definition of all professions and journalist any way belonging to a union or professional organization, must also define the journalistic profession and the media organization to clarify the legal confusion.
Participants called for abolishing all laws inherited from the former regime, which shackle freedom of the press.
The Iraqi Civil Society Initiative have attended this consultation that is the second in a series of meetings that look to collect journalist perspectives on the proposed amendment. The Association hosted a previous consultation in Karbala in mid-January and plans for a third seminar in Basra and a series of seminars and workshops in various parts of Iraq being planned to listen to the views of the majority of journalists and media staff on the proposed amendment to the law. There will be a final conference held in Baghdad with representatives from various Iraqi media and representatives of the legislative, executive and judicial branches to approve the proposed amendment and for final and formal submission to the Council of Representatives. ICSSI is supporting the efforts to reform this law in order to provide a real protection to the Iraqi journalists that are working in very different circumstances.