The Federal Court Once Again Postpones
The Case to Repeal the “Journalists’ Rights Law”
No Verdict Expected Until October
27 August 2012 For a second time the Federal Supreme Court has postponed issuing a decision in the case brought by The Society for Defending Press Freedom challenging the so-called “Journalists’ Rights Law.” The Society brought its lawsuit to the court under the personal names of its members, all journalists concerned to defend the freedom of the press. The court postponed issuing a verdict until October and has instead consolidated the Society’s case with a second lawsuit filed by a different group of journalists who have similar goals.The Society for Defending Press Freedom renews its call to all journalists, media colleagues, activists and citizens interested in freedom of expression in Iraq to support this lawsuit and express their disapproval of this law, which threatens the freedom of the press by violating both the Iraq Constitution and international law. The Society has made these threats clear in the challenges it issued last April and again in June. The Chairman of the Society, Oday Hatem urged people not to be misled about the dangers that journalists will face under the so-called “Journalists’ Rights Law,” which 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. Hatem stressed that the law does not guarantee protection for working reporters. In particular, access to treatment or pensions is only for those with a 50 percent ratio of injury or disability. This will prevent journalists from taking advantage of the law to “Compensate Those Affected by Terrorist Attacks and Mistakes of the Military in 2009,” which sets injury or disability at 1 percent. Paragraph 14 of the law also refers any charge of wrongful termination to the Iraqi labor law legislator, but it does not guarantee working reporters any protection. It allows media organizations to fire journalists, terminate their contracts, and stop paying their salaries at any time. The law does not require media organization to provide severance pay, as is the practice in most countries. Oday Hatem concluded his remarks by stating that truly protecting the rights of all working journalists requires the enactment of a unified social security and pension law in Iraq and guarantee of the freedom of expression.
The Society For Defending Press Freedom