Skyline Warns Against Iraqi Legal Amendments Muzzling Dissent Voices
Skyline International warns against the legal amendments that Iraq is adopting to muzzle dissent voices and tighten its security grip at the expense of freedom of opinion and expression.
In its press release, the Stockholm-based international foundation "Skyline" states that it is deeply concerned about the Iraqi parliament's willingness to proceed to the vote on the "Information Crimes Law." Skyline is worried that the law will be used later to restrict the country's constitution's freedoms.
Members of the "Security and Defense Committee" in the Iraqi Council of Representatives stated that they had ended discussing the "Information Crimes" draft resolution and that they are intended to change its name to the "Electronic Crimes Law."
According to the committee members, the law will be submitted to the Presidency of Parliament to vote on it within a week or two, provided that it addresses issues related to "the Internet, mobile phone, and all electronic issues related to social media."
Skyline indicates that the move to approve the "cybercrime law" in Iraq takes place in an already deteriorating state of public freedoms and government campaigns of intimidation, harassment, arrest, and assault on journalists and others. These actions have stepped up since the outbreak of widespread popular protests in October 2019.
The Iraqi authorities have also requested closing about eight TV channels and four radio stations for several months, claiming that they violated media licensing rules. Also, at least three news agencies' offices were raided and damaged.
In early April 2020, the authorities suspended the "Reuters" news agency's license due to an article it published on the number of Coronavirus confirmed cases in Iraq. Then, they withdrew the decision under human rights pressure.
Skyline stresses that the Iraqi authorities should make the laws in line with international standards and abolish the vague provisions of insults and incitement instead of passing new laws that raise concerns about freedom of expression.
Accordingly, Skyline urges the Iraqi authorities for a broad societal discussion on the new law articles before the voting and to ensure that it is not used to restrict the freedoms of Iraqis and silence dissent voices.
Iraqi lawmakers had previously discussed the "Information Crimes draft" that gives the Iraqi authorities the right to monitor and hold activists accountable for their social media posts. Still, the project was met with widespread popular rejection and was described as "a police state. "
It is also sparked controversy due to its controversial articles that contain dangerous measures that restrict freedom of expression.
Skyline calls on Iraq to fulfill its obligations under international conventions and treaties regarding the protection of public freedoms and freedom of expression on social media, including the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," which Baghdad ratified in 1971.