Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

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The Freedom of Expression Draft Law Restrict Freedoms and Recreates a Dictatorship!

 Activists and Journalists Participate in a Seminar Organized by the Press Freedom Advocacy Association:

Baghdad – November 15, 2014

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On Saturday Nov. 15, the Press Freedom Advocacy Association conducted a discussion seminar on the freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration draft law.  A number of activists, journalists and legal experts were present.

The seminar, which was held in the Tigris Hall of Baghdad Hotel, was facilitated by the President of the Association, Mr. Mustafa Nasser. During the seminar discussion papers were presented by the Legal Consultant of the Association, Mr. Zuhair Dhiaaldeen, the head of the National Union of Journalists, Mr. Adnan Hussein, and the former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Baghdad, Dr. Ali Al-Rufaie. Member of Parliament, Joseph Saliwa, also made a presentation at the beginning of the seminar.

The attendees discussed the draft of the law which was read by the House of Representatives last month, and which contains materials that restrict the freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration, and has stirred up public controversy.

Participants agreed on the importance of expanding the debate on the draft law, and delaying its second reading in parliament.  This would allow time for the draft law to be amended so that it is in line with the Iraqi constitution and international covenants.

Because the law affects the lives of all citizens, attendees of the conference stressed the need for the House of Representatives to listen to the opinion of civil society organizations and activists, civilians and legal experts.

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Speakers at the conference highlighted paragraphs of the law that prevent sit-ins and strikes, and impose restrictions on the right to assemblee, as they criticized that the draft law combines the freedoms of expression and demonstrate and the right to obtain information.

Participants agreed to submit their comments to the House of Representatives as soon as possible, and to submit a memorandum to the three presidencies drawing attention to this important issue.  They will also launch a campaign aimed at amending the freedom of expression and peaceful protest law.