Articles / Iraq
While the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has long enjoyed the reputation of a place of tolerance and respect for free expression, over the course of 2020 and 2021, the Kurdish authorities have increasingly cracked down on demonstrators, activists, journalists and other critics. In February 2021, five journalist and activists who are known to be critical of the government were sentenced to six years’ in prison. Their sentence was recently upheld on appeal.
On the International Day for Freedom of the Press on May 3, the undersigned organizations call on the authorities of the Kurdistan region of Iraq to stop their continuous violations of the freedom of the press, lift restrictions imposed on journalistic work; to end their campaigns on the prosecution and detention of journalists for their legitimate work, open a serious investigation into the death of a journalist who was covering the popular demonstrations in August 2020, and bring all those responsible to justice.
Coalition of NGOs call on the Iraqi parliament to withdraw or sufficiently amend Iraq's Draft Law on Combating Cybercrime
On December 21, 2020, a coalition of ten organisations, including MENA Rights Group, sent a joint letter to members of the Iraqi Parliament, calling on them to withdraw or sufficientally amend the draft Law on Combating Cybercrime. The letter maintained that the new draft law places greater undue restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and does not help prevent cybercrime or ensure effective cybersecurity in Iraq.
Over 20 NGOs request intervention of Iraq's president to make sure missing protesters are being released
In the context of the 2019-2020 Iraqi demonstrations, dozens of peaceful protesters have been forcibly disappeared. In a joint letter sent on December 10, 2020, MENA Rights Group and over 20 other Iraqi and international NGOs called on Iraq's president, Barham Salih, to ensure that those who are still missing be released immediately.
Joint letter urges Iraqi Prime Minister to ensure immediate release of forcibly disappeared protesters
On December 10, 2020, a coalition of over 20 Iraqi and international NGOs called on the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa Al Kadhimi, to take all necessary measures to ensure that the peaceful protesters who disappeared in relation to the 2019-2020 Iraqi demonstrations be released immediately. The use of enforced disappearances to silence critical voices is well entrenched in Iraq's history - it is high time for the current administration to break away from these practices.
Concerned over restrictions to freedom of expression, 10 civil society organisations call on Iraq to withdraw draft Cybercrime Law
Should the “Law on Information Technology Crimes” be enacted in its current form, it would constitute a serious setback for freedom of expression in Iraq, and would establish a climate of self-censorship in the country.