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The Iraqi Coalition for Freedom of Expression Participates in Parliamentary Hearing

Baghdad – Iraqi Woman Journalist’s Forum

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The Iraqi Coalition for Freedom of Expression participated, along with a group of media and legal NGOs, today, Sunday the 25th of January 2015, in a hearing conducted by the Cultural and Media, and the Human Rights Committees of the Iraqi Parliament.

During the session, a draft of the Freedom of Expression and Demonstration Law was discussed. Coalition spokesman Mr. Adul Min’im Al A’sem called for radical changes in the draft, denouncing the proposed draft for restricting freedoms that are already guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution; he also said that the draft is an explicit violation of the promotion of democracy that Iraq is seeking after the changes of 2003. Mr. Al A’sem referred to the Coalition of Freedom of Expression’s conference that was held in Tunisia last year, with the participation of a number of Iraqi NGOs, as well as the decisions of the ICSSI’s conference that was held recently in Oslo, as he announced his reservations concerning the draft law.

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Mrs. Nibras Al M’amoori, president of the Iraqi Female Journalists Forum, also participated in the discussion, emphasizing the importance of promoting gender balance among journalists and reducing the cases of exclusion and discrimination that female journalists are suffering from, as part of improving the draft law. In addition, Mr. Mohammed Al Salami of the National Association to Defend Human Rights said that the draft contains vague and elastic paragraphs that would be very harmful to freedom of expression if the current draft were enacted as law.  Mr. Mustafa Nasir, president of the Association to Defend Freedom of Journalists, pointed out that some of the draft articles use the term “general system,” but it is not clear what this term means concerning the mechanism for granting permission to demonstrate. The participants presented copies of their research papers to the committees so that their concerns can be addressed in modifying the draft legislation.

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Prior to the hearing, the Iraqi Coalition for Freedom of Expression submitted a copy of the decisions and recommendations of the Tunisia and Oslo conferences to the Parliament’s Cultural and Media Committee. The Coalition also participated in recent meetings held by the committee to amend the draft in order to produce a better, more democratic law. They all agreed that the current draft legislation would lead to many violations of the freedom of expression.

The Iraqi Coalition for Freedom of Expression was formed in May of 2014 as an outcome of the Global Conference on Freedom of Expression that was held in Tunisia. The Coalition includes: The National Association to Defend Human Rights, Iraqi Female Journalists, The Association to Defend Freedom of Journalists, Almesalla Organization, the War Peace Reporting Institution, The National Union of Iraqi Journalists, Iraqi Network for Social Media, the Yazidi Solidarity and Fraternity League, ICSSI, The Iraqi Democratic Future Network, and the Hawlati newspaper.