A new draft law on cybercrimes will soon be discussed in the Iraqi Parliament. Under this law it would be possible to hold anyone accountable for a simple post on social media. The working group on ‘Media’ based in Baghdad (and managed by Information Center for Research and Development together with the Iraqi Network for Social Media) is working to raise awareness on the risks of this draft law and aims to establish correct legal mechanisms for accountability.

In this framework and given the urgency of the new draft law, the media working group conducted a training on cybercrimes and digital publications, which took place from 10-11 September for selected youth. While the training was primarily devoted to explaining the draft law on cybercrimes, it also dealt more generally with laws and regulations that restrict freedom of publication and expression, and the penalties a person may face in case of violating those regulations. All this, in one way or another, contradicts the Iraqi constitution which states in Article 38: “The State shall guarantee, without prejudice to public order and morals, first: freedom of expression by all means; second: freedom of the press, printing, advertising, media and publishing”.

On the second day, the participants discussed management of social media campaigns, and committed further to the following:

  • Creation of a Facebook page  ‘Information is a Crime!’
  • Launching a weekly hashtag (to be agreed upon later by the participants), with the aim of raising awareness on the risks of the cybercrimes draft law

The 12 participants agreed to remain involved in the media working group and will followup with additional awareness actions.