Iraq: Journalists Protection Law (draft)

This is a draft law submitted to the Iraqi parliament in 2009. A detailed critique of its contents was published by Article XIX, the campaign for free expression.

The Journalists Protection Law (draft)

Article 1:

Any violation against a journalist while he is performing his journalistic role is considered to be an assault tantamount to a violation against a civil servant while he is performing his official duties. The offender is to be punished by the legally provided sentences (for violations against) a government employee.

Article 2:

The journalist is not to be arrested or detained because of his work as a journalist except by a court order and after notifying the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate and the participation of its representative in the investigation.

Article 3:

The journalist has the right to access any information in the custody of the government departments and public institutions to transmit them to the public. These bodies are not entitled to refuse the journalist’s request to obtain information except in the case that revealing the information would cause great damage to the national interests, in a greater way than the damage that would obtain if this information were not published, and were
concealed from the public.

Article 4:

The journalist has the right not to reveal the sources of information, unless it is necessary to prevent a crime or discover the perpetrator (of a crime), on the condition that a court order be issued by the court concerned in the matter. Claims for compensation are not permitted after three months of the date of issue (of the court order).

Article 5:

It is not permitted to confiscate the journalist's equipment except by order of the court, and that (the confiscation) be necessary to prevent a crime or in the investigation of (a crime).

Article 6:

The state is to establish an effective capability to protect the journalists and media outlets, and to investigate the crimes to which they are subjected.

Article 7:

The security agencies are to conduct immediate investigations in the case of any journalist being subjected to any kind of threat or harm, and to make every effort to punish the perpetrators.

Article 8:

Journalists are permitted to carry out their work without interference on the part of the security forces unless there is legitimate justification.

Article 9:

The state will be responsible for the care for families of martyrs of the press by appropriating pensions for them.

Article 10:

The state will appropriate salaries for journalists who are subjected to disability because of their work, if the disability is greater than 50 percent.

Article 11:

The state is responsible for health care of journalists, and to make outlays for treatment expenses inside and outside the country if the injury or disability occurred because of their journalistic work.

Article 12:

It is incumbent upon the presidents of the local and foreign media institutions working in Iraq to sign business contracts with the journalists that are working in their institutions according to forms prepared by the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate (enumerating) the rights of the institution and the employee. A copy of the contract is to be submitted to the Syndicate.

Article 13:

It is not permitted to dismiss a journalist from his work except after notifying the Journalists' Syndicate of the pretexts for the dismissal. If the Syndicate has conducted an arbitration stage between the journalist and the institution, the provisions stated in the labor law will apply after the expiration of the contract.

Article 14:

The journalist has the right to attend conferences, general sessions and public meetings in order to perform his professional work.

Article 15:

The law is the only authority over journalists in the conduct of their work.

Article 16:

A journalist is one who works for press (outlets) that may be read, heard, or viewed, and who is affiliated with the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate.

Article 17:

The Press Law, number 206 of the year 1968 is cancelled with all its amendments.

Article 18:

This law is to be considered effective from the date of its publication in the official newspaper.