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Iraqi civil society fights new freedom of expression bill

Civil pressure in Iraq has managed to thus far prevent the passing of the “freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration” draft law, which they argue would place tough new restrictions on civil freedoms.
Members of the newly elected Iraqi parliament attend a session at the Parliament headquarters in Baghdad July 1, 2014. The acting speaker of Iraq's newly elected parliament said no agreement had been reached on naming a new speaker and that the parliament now had no quorum.    REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3WLLU
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BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq's civil associations took action after the Iraqi parliament suddenly announced the inclusion of a draft law on freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration on its July 13 agenda. A leaked revision of the draft had contained several acts that restrict Iraqis' freedom of expression and peaceful protest.

The draft includes such tough punishments as a one-year minimum prison sentence for insulting a religious symbol or figure, and set difficult procedures for obtaining permits to protest. The protesters must apply for the permission six days before the event and can be denied for any reason. The would-be protesters' recourse is only to complain to the court, and the time-consuming procedures of the judicial system means the protest will not be allowed.

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