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13-04-2023, 09:00



A statement addressed to the House of Representatives and political forces regarding a draft law (Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Demonstration). Based on the workshop held by the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights on March 16, 2023, to discuss the draft.



The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights held a workshop, in the presence of members of parliament, experts, and activists in civil society, to discuss the draft law (freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration) that was put forward for second reading in the House of Representatives.


This workshop was held on Thursday (March 16, 2023) to establish the importance of joint work between civil society, non-governmental organizations, and state institutions.


Members of the House of Representatives, activists, and legal experts participated in the session as they addressed major issues that the current draft suffers from and how it affects the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution.


It was noted that the written draft was written in a chaotic manner and included articles far from the right to assembly as it combined the right to assembly and freedom of expression. Moreover, it also included punitive clauses that cannot be in a law regulating the right to assembly and peaceful demonstration. In addition, it included articles related to the right to obtain information, which is a law that should be independent by itself, as well as the case with the article related to the establishment of information databases by state ministries.


The law draft does not indicate or show that its writing team had legislative experience, knowledge of the Iraqi constitution, and Iraq's international obligations. There are no real attempts to regulate freedom of assembly, but rather, there were attempts to restrict and undermine freedom of assembly by imposing a certain pattern of restrictions. 

Earlier on March 2023, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights sent in an official letter their observations to the Legal Committee in the House of Representatives, the Human Rights Committee in the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Culture and Information in the House of Representatives indicating the existence of great dangers in the law on freedom of assembly and expression of opinion.


The draft law, published on the official website of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, contains broad terminology and articles that contradict Article (38) of the Iraqi Constitution, which guarantees freedom of opinion and expression by peaceful means, and also violates Article (19) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


We aim to strengthen the efforts of state institutions in regulating freedoms, however, this does not mean reaching the stage of restricting them and imposing legal articles that are not convenient to be in a democratic political system. We have identified some paragraphs of the draft law that suffer from several issues, due to their inconsistency with the Iraqi constitution and principles of universal human rights.



The observations on the aforementioned draft law adopted the Iraqi constitution and international principles of human rights as a reference in addressing the violations that the Iraqi legislator set in this draft which, if proceeded in this way, would be a major problem to human rights in Iraq.


On the basis of the foregoing and the observations made by the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, and the partners who discussed the draft law during the workshop, we render the Iraqi Council of Representatives to consult with civil society and non-governmental organizations before enacting the draft law and turning it into a cordon that stifles freedoms and re-adopts dictatorial methods and behaviors that create a gap between citizens and state institutions.


It is imperative for the parliament to follow transparent mechanisms in listening to the opinions of stakeholders, and to legislate laws that are in accordance with the Iraqi constitution, this is our hope and aim.


The partners who discussed the draft agreed that this draft law returns Iraq to the era of dictatorship and suppression of freedoms, and increases the indicators of political forces seeking to restrict freedoms, impose their influence on the opinions of society, and impose a certain pattern of thinking and strangle freedoms.


Freedom of Expression is a main pillar in any democratic system and restricting this freedom means stripping the character of (democracy) from the Iraqi political system freedom of expression is the backbone to prevent the return of dictatorship.


On this basis, the following recommendations were adopted by the partners and supporters who signed the statement:


1. Stop voting on the current draft law on the grounds that it violates Article (38) of the Iraqi constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that seeks to undermine freedom of assembly.


2. Determining the draft law on freedom of assembly and separating it from freedom of expression, which is constitutionally guaranteed, as they cannot be in one draft law, and their presence in one draft is an attempt to restrict them.


3. Rewriting a new draft and involving the competent organizations in the drafting process, given that the current draft was drafted in a way that incorporated articles unrelated to freedom of assembly.


4. Remove penalties from the draft law that aims to regulate and not punish.


5.The terminology of the draft law must be clear and explicit, not vague and rubbery that can be interpreted for more than one meaning.


The signatories to the statement:

1. The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights

2. Nisan Al Zayer/ Member of the Human Rights Committee in the House of Representatives

3. Anas Al-Azzawi / member of the Human Rights Commission

4. Shorouq Al-Abaiji, the National Civil Movement

5. Ahmed Al-Amiri / activist

6. Wissam Al-Mulla / journalist

7. Reyam Mahbouba/ Amarji party

8. Ahmed Ali Majeed/ lawyer

9. Hayan Ibrahim Al-Khayyat/ lawyer

10. The National House Party

11. Musa Rahamat allah/ activist

12. Al-Waad Movement

13. Mais Adel Sadeq/ activist

14. Aras Abdul Khaleq Al Hamad / activist

15. Ismail Saad / lawyer

16. Mohie Al-Ansari / Head of the Iraqi House Movement

17. Fares Haram/ academic and activist

18. Shaqofian Organization for Development and Culture

19. Abd Jawamir Shati/ director of an organization

20. Hanadi Saad Abd Ali/ human rights activist

21. Ali Abdul Majeed Ahmed / Head of the Civil Dialogue Organization for Development

22. Abd al-Karim Mohsen Muhammad Hassan/ member of the Political Bureau of the Social Party

23. Falah Al-Amiri/ Executive Director - Nissan Institute for Democratic Awareness

24. Salam Zayer Al-Haddad/ civil activist SYO

25. Haider Al-Shakri/ researcher

26. Dilkesh Sadiq/ human rights activist

27. Hassan Al-Obeidi/ political activist

28. Dr. Muhammad Alawiyya/ Head of the Ishtar Center for Democracy Support

29. Mudrik Hussain Ali/ representative of Al-Sayyab Association for Human Rights

30. Saeed Yassin/ good governance and anti-corruption expert

31. Hussam Falah/ journalist

32. Ali Abdel Zahra/journalist/researcher in political affairs

33. Sarah Jassim/ human rights defender

34. Mustafa Adel Al-Saeedi/ journalist

35. Dr. Ihsan Al-Shammari / Head of the Iraqi Political Thinking Center

36. Ali Sahib / Director of the Information Center for Research and Development

37. Asos Hardi/ journalist writer

38. Tishreen Democratic Movement

39. Basem Francis Hanna/ journalist

40. Prof. Dr. Ali Kazem Al-Rafi’i / Secretary General / Social Democratic Current

41. Iyad al-Mahamdeh/civilian political activist

42. Hamid Jahjih / Amarji Liberal Party

43. Ali Abdullah/ civil activist

44. Wasn Hassan Jawad, a lawyer

45. Dr. Al-Nasser Duraid/ a political refugee

46. Tahseen Al-Amiri/ engineer

47. Ghaleb Al-Harbi/ Iraqi Secular Gathering

48. Wissam Ziyad / journalist

49. Wasfi Jassim Khalifa/ an Iraqi citizen

50. Raed Al-Rikabi/ Iraqi Modernity Gathering

51. Bashir Kifah Yahya / Director of Barq Policy and Consulting

52. Dr. Wael Munther Al-Bayati/ academic and human rights activist

53. Ahrar al-Shabak Party

54. Maryam Muhammad Majeed / engineer

55. Ahmed Abbas Ali/ civil activist

56. Maan Daoud Al-Majali/ Professor and journalist

57. Zulfiqar Muwafaq Khudair/ volunteer in civil society

58. Amal Hadi al-Zaidi/ journalist

59. Al-Karrar Hassan / human rights defender

60. Maryam Karim / media personality

61. Hussein Jaber Janam/ an Iraqi citizen

62. Teba Yassin Youssef

63. A human rights defender

64. Ali Al-Dahamat/ activist

65. Tishreen Organization for Human Rights

66. Enas Karim / head of the recovery organization for the treatment of addiction

67. Ali Muhammad Karim / engineer

68. Prof. Lamia Yassin/ New Day Organization

69. Samira Nasser Mazban Al-Khafaji/ trade union and political activist/ October Movement

70. Muhammad Hassan Al-Salami/ Head of Mwatana Association for Human Rights

71. Maryam Hadi/ activist