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Totalitarian laws used to punish journalists must be repealed


The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory "JFO" followed up the case of issuing an arrest warrant against journalist Sarmad Al-Taie under Article 226 of the Penal Code 111 of 1969, in addition to suspending "AL-Muhayid" program hosted by journalist Saadoun Damad, following Al-Taie's statements within the program.


First,  JFO opposes the threats to the personal safety of Al-Tai and Damad, who are targeted by incitement campaigns, and urges governmental authorities to play their roles in investigating the sources of incitement and guaranteeing complete protection for both journalists and others from the program staff.


Article 226 of Penal Code No. 111 of 1969 stipulates that "any person who publicly insults the National Assembly or the government or the courts or the armed forces or any other constitutional body or the public authorities or official or 1 semiofficial agencies or departments is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 7 years or detention or a fine".


Since the JFO began its work in defense of journalists' freedom of speech and work, it has focused light on the law articles that are a significant obstacle to their work, and it has continued to increase its requests to fight to abolish such legal articles that violate the country's democratic approach.


JFO restates its call for a halt to work on the following legal articles of Law No. 111/1969: 83, 84, 201, 202, 210, 211, 215, 225, 226, 227, 403, 433, 434. Those articles have been utilized to stifle the journalists and others who have opposing viewpoints.


JFO raises concerns about the legal situation in Iraq regarding freedom of speech guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution in line with Article 38, especially after it was proven that many journalists and opinion makers were subjected to limitations.


JFO is also surprised by the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate's position in its newest statement, as well as its previous positions in comparable cases, which contrasts with the Journalists' Rights Law of 2011, which states in Article 10 that "the court must notify the Journalists Syndicate or the institution in which the journalist works about Any complaint against him that is related to the practice of his work," suggesting that the syndicate works as a supporter of journalists rather than disavowing them.


This applies to the decision of the Iraqi Media Network's Board of Trustees to discontinue "AL-Muhayid" program, as Article 14 specifies that "a journalist may not be dismissed arbitrarily, and else he may seek compensation in line with the terms of the applicable labor law."


JFO regrets that the judiciary has engaged into a conflict with journalists, by referring to a "network of media professionals having external linkages" in a repeat of inflammatory content that well-known partisan institutions have been launching.


Announcing the antagonism from the highest judicial authority against journalists and referring to them as "the network" - according to the Judicial Council's statement - is incomprehensible, and it also puts the journalists who have been subjected to this accusation in a position of confusion: "Where can we complain?".




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