Sign up for weekly updates

Draft law on protection of journalists must meet freedom of expression standards, ARTICLE 19 says

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - London: 04.05.2011 - ARTICLE 19 today releases its analyses of the draft "Journalist Protection Law" that is currently being discussed by Iraqi parliamentarians and stakeholders. Over the past two years, legislation on the protection of journalists has been the subject of vigorous discussions in Iraq, and ARTICLE 19 has reviewed an earlier draft. ARTICLE 19 is very concerned about the Draft Law, not only because its provisions are contrary to international human rights standards on freedom of expression and freedom of association, but also because they are counterproductive to its apparent objectives of protecting journalists.

"ARTICLE 19 believes that several features in the current Iraqi Draft journalist protection law will impact negatively on Iraqi journalists and media because they are not in line with international human right standards. We urge the Iraqi legislature to reject the Draft Law as it is currently presented," said Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19. "If the Iraqi state authorities remain committed to protection of journalists, we urge them to adopt the model Draft Law on the Protection and Regulation of Journalists and Media Workers that ARTICLE 19 drafted last year," continued Dr Callamard.

Unfortunately, the current version of the Draft Law does not address any of the fundamental failings of the earlier version of the Draft Law and instead repeats many of the failings of the earlier version of 2009. More specifically, it establishes a de facto system of licensing for journalists and a hierarchy in Iraqi law with journalists apparently benefiting from a higher standard of protection than other individuals.

Protection under the Draft Law - including compensation for injured journalists and the children of killed journalists - also depends on whether a particular act is deemed a "terrorist act" and when the victim is a journalist and a member of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate. ARTICLE 19 had commented on an earlier version of the Draft Law in 2009. In August 2010, together with local partners and the International Federation of Journalists, ARTICLE 19 also developed a model Draft Law on the Protection and Regulation of Journalists and Media Workers as a means to comprehensively and coherently protect journalists in accordance with international human rights law.

In the analysis, ARTICLE 19 argues that the Iraqi state authorities could better protect journalists' rights by: implementing their existing international human rights obligations; ensuring that there are enhanced training and resources available for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the judiciary on the protection of journalists; enacting legislation on the right to information; and repealing all criminal defamation laws.

To read the comment on the draft journalist protection law, click here
What other IFEX members are saying
Case history

Latest Tweet:

The use of criminal law to silence people who write about public issues is a significant problem in many countries…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.