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Iraq's Jaafari law would violate human rights

A draft law that would impose the principles of Jaafari jurisprudence on Shiite marriages would violate many human rights protected under Iraq's civil code.
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The Iraqi Justice Ministry announced on Oct. 27 that it had sent a copy of a draft law on Jaafari (Shiite) jurisprudence and personal status to the cabinet for approval and referral to the Council of Representatives for passage. The draft law stipulates that Iraqi Shiites would refer to Islamic Sharia, and specifically principles of Jaafari jurisprudence, for personal status issues — which include marriage and divorce, as well as issues of inheritance and adoption. (Jaafari comes from the name of Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq, the founder of the Jaafari school of jurisprudence and the sixth Shiite imam.) The pending legislation threatens to further divide Iraqi society on the basis of sectarianism and ethnicity and violate women's and children's rights, including potentially making the latter susceptible to sexual abuse through child marriage.

The proposed law includes 254 items, all based on jurisprudence that may vary based on the different views and interpretations of Shiite religious authorities. This law is expected to encourage other sects to develop similar legislation, since Iraqi sects are entitled to have their own courts and laws to regulate their religious affairs and communities. This portends the fragmentation and division of society into separate components under different laws based on religious provisions rather than universal civil rules.

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