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Iraq: Parliament Should Reject “Assembly and Peaceful Demonstration” Bill
In response to the Iraqi parliament’s plan to vote on a controversial “Assembly and Peaceful Demonstration” measure, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Iraq’s parliament should reject the ‘‘Assembly and Peaceful Demonstration’ bill, which would seriously restrict the right to protest and silence opponents of the government,” said Dokhi Fassihian, senior program manager for Middle East and North Africa programs. “The bill would require citizens to be granted permission five days in advance for any public protest, and tightly limits where demonstrations can take pace. The United States and Iraq’s other democratic allies should denounce the law and urge Iraq to uphold its constitutionally-protected rights."
The bill would require organizers of protests to inform officials in advance of the topic of the gathering, its purpose, its place and time, and the names of the organizing committee.
A similar measure was first in October 2012, drawing strong opposition from civil society, which prevented its passage. The government re-introduced it on July 13. Voting was postponed after a public protest. The measure’s parliamentary supporters include former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party, Al Muwatin Coalition, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.