Friday, January 11, 2008

Text of Kurdistan Journalism Act passed by Kurdistan parliament - Translated by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli

Translated from the Kurdish text published by Rozhnama, Sulaymnaiya, daily newspaper in Kurdish, 6 Jan 08, p4

Report: "Text of Kurdistan Media Law passed by Kurdistan parliament and sent to the President of the Region for approval"

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
In the name of people
National Assembly of Kurdistan – Iraq

With reference to the power of Clause (1) of Article (56) of Act No 1 of the year 1992 and the request submitted by the Council of Ministers, Kurdistan National Assembly passed the following Act in its meeting No 33 on 11 January 2007.
Parliament Act No 35 of the Year 2007

Journalism Act in Kurdistan

In these articles the words standing in the first column of the Table set out below shall bear the meanings set out opposite to them respectively in the second column, if not inconsistent with the subject or context:

Article 1:

[In this Act] the following terms below shall bear the meanings set out opposite to them:
1.1Region: Kurdistan region- Iraq.
1.2Syndicate: Syndicate of Kurdistan journalists
1.3Secretary: Secretary of [Syndicate] of Kurdistan journalists
1.4Media (journalism): any journalistic activity in various media channels
1.5Journalist: any person engaged in journalistic work with media channels
1.6Newspaper: any publication under a definite name, that is published periodically, consecutively and regularly and distributed

Article 2:

2.1 Media (journalism) is free and uncensored. Freedom of expression and publication is guaranteed for every citizen within the framework of respecting private liberties and rights of individuals, their privacy, common customs and system in line with law and commitment to the principles of media work according to the UN conventions.
2.2 Journalists are free to obtain the information which is important for citizens and relevant to public interest from diverse sources provided that this will not affect the national security of the region.
2.3 Journalists should protect the sources of their information or news and keep them confidential unless the court decides otherwise in relation to the cases brought to court.
2.4 All natural or moral persons have the right to own and publish a newspaper in line with the power of this Act.
2.5 A newspaper cannot be prevented from publication, or appropriated unless with a court order.

Terms for publication of newspapers, closing down and dissolution

Article 3

For the publication of a newspaper the following terms and conditions must be followed:
3.1 Proprietor or founder will [have to] publish a statement in two daily newspapers in the region in which the name, surname, nationality and residence address of the proprietor or founder together with the title of the newspaper, the language it is published in, the name of the editor and the frequency of its publication are written. This statement will be considered as the declaration of the publication of the newspaper.
3.2 Any stakeholder (person with interest) who has objections to the publication of the newspaper can register his/her objection at the Appeal Court in the region asking for a judicial review. Otherwise the publication of the newspaper will be legally valid.
3.3 The proprietor of founder must submit the statement of foundation to and register it with the Ministry of Culture together with a statement declaring the sources of funding for the publication. The Ministry will have to submit this information to the Syndicate.
3.4 Person publishing a newspaper must be legally qualified to do so.
3.5 It is not permissible to publish two newspapers in the region carrying the same title (name).
3.6 Proprietor or founder must write his name, the name of the editor, the place and time of its publication and the printing press in a visible area of the newspaper and he/she must publish any changes in these within 30 days from the date of the occurrence of the changes.

Article 4

Every newspaper must have an editor-in-chief who will oversee the items published in the newspaper. He must have the following qualifications:
4.1 He must be a member of syndicate of Kurdistan journalists and be fluent in the spoken and written language of the publication.
4.2 Must be a citizen of the region or a permanent resident.
4.3 Editor-in-chief and writer [of an item] have civil and penal responsibility for the publication of the item while the proprietor will have only civil responsibility unless it is proven that he practically contributed to the writing [of the item] then he will have the same responsibility as that of the editor-in-chief.

Article 5

A newspaper is considered dissolved in one of the following cases:
5.1 If it failed to publish after six months from its validation date without a legitimate justification
5.2 If a court order made such a decision
5.3 If it failed to publish for the following periods:
5.3.1 A daily newspaper for three consecutive days
5.3.2 A weekly newspaper for 8 consecutive issues
5.3.3 A bimonthly and monthly newspaper for four consecutive issues
5.3.4 Seasonal periodicals for three consecutive issues

Article 6

With consideration to the guidelines stipulated in this Act, proprietor is entitled to give up his ownership wholly and partly to another person provided that a declaration to this effect is published in a daily newspaper 30 days before the date of this change.

Responses and Corrections

Article 7

7.1 If a newspaper publishes something false, the person who is affected by the published item, his/her inheritors or those who are his/her legal representative can ask for its correction or to respond to the item of news or article. The Editor-in-chief must publish the correction or the response in one of the two issues that are due for publication after they receive the response, in the same place of the newspaper and with the same typeface and size of the [false] item.
7.2 The newspaper is required to publish the correction or the response; otherwise it will be fined with a sum of money no less than 1 million dinars and not exceeding two millions.
7.3 The editor is entitled not to publish the correction or the response he/she receives according to the clauses 7.1 and 7.2 above in the following cases:
7.3.1 If the newspaper had already made accurate and satisfactory correction
7.3.2 If the correction or response sent to the editor was signed by a nickname or written in a language different from the language of the published item
7.3.3 If the content of the response was contrary to law, common custom and morality.
7.3.4 If the response or the correction was sent 90 days after the publication of the item

Rights and Privileges of the Journalist

Article 8

8.1 Journalists are free and they are under the control of no power in the process of practising their profession apart from the power of law.
8.2 The opinions and views a journalist publishes in a newspaper or the information he reveals, must not cause any disturbance of his life or affect his rights
8.3 The journalist is entitled to refuse to disclose the sources of his information unless this is demanded by a court order
8.4 The journalist is entitled to attend all public conferences, meetings and other activities
8.5 Anyone who insults or attacks a journalist because of his profession will be punished by law in the same way as if he had attacked a civil servant during performing his duties.
8.6 If a radical change occurred in the politics/policy of the newspaper in which a journalist works or if the terms of his contract have changed, the journalist is entitled to terminate his contract unilaterally, provided that he gives a 30 day notice to the newspaper, without this affecting the journalist’s compensation rights
8.7 Media institutions and newspaper managers must abide by all the contractual rights defined in relevant laws in line with contract of media work approved by the syndicate of journalists.
8.8 In case that a journalist has not taken all his holiday entitlements or some of them have been carried over to the new financial year, he will remain entitled to his wages for those days provided that it will not exceed one month’s salary
8.9 In case a journalist falls ill or injured while performing his journalistic tasks, it is the responsibility of the media institution he works for to pay for his treatment.
8.10 If a journalist works during formal holidays, the media institutions employing him should compensate him financially by doubling his wages for these days.

Legal protection

Article 9

9.1 No legal action must be taken against a journalist accused of an activity related to his work without first notifying the syndicate of the situation
9.2 No investigation is carried out to a journalist or his home or office is searched because of the reason mentioned in (9.1), unless in response to a legal order; the syndicate’s secretary or his/her legal deputy is entitled to be present in the time of investigation
9.3 In any penal investigation the journalist’s documents, written information, statements and books cannot be used as evidence of guilt against him unless they are related to the issue about which a complaint against the newspaper is registered.
9.4 Any information published or written about an official or someone who has been given a public duty cannot be considered an offense if the published item does not go beyond the limit of the work and duty of such persons provided that [the writer or publisher] does have evidence to prove the allegations made.
9.4 After 90 days of the publication of an item, no legal action should be pursued.

Article 10

10.1 Without prejudice to any harsher penalty stipulated in any other laws of the region in respect to clause A and B below, the journalist will be fined no less than three million dinars and no more than ten million dinars with the suspension of the newspaper for six months if he/she published any of the following in any type of the media:
10.1A Any item that causes to disturb security situation in the region and instigate fear among people or incite the commitment of crime or non-application of laws
10.1B Any item that might encourage terror and create hatred and divisions among the elements of society
10.2 The journalist will be fined no less than three million dinars and no more than ten million dinars if he/she published any of the following in any type of the media:
10.2A Insulting religious belief of a certain faith or ridiculing their practices or insulting or hurting a symbol that has become a point of worship and reverence by a certain faith recognised by law
10.2B Any item related to the private life of an individual, even if it is true, if this causes insult to him.
10.2C Any item that stains common customs and morals
10.2D Swearing, profane words and defamation
10.2E Any item that harms the procedure of court and justice unless authorised by court
10.3 A Newspaper that publishes such items, will be fined no less than 10 million dinars and no more than 20 million dinars
10.4 In case a newspaper repeats the publication of such items the court can increase the fine provided that it will not exceed twice the amount stipulated in clauses 10.1 and 10.2
10.5 General prosecutor and the person affected, can ask for prosecution according to law

Article 11

The power of Article 10 does not extend to those publications that are published for scientific purposes by the government institutions, universities and research centres.

Article 12

Items obtained or translated from sources published outside the region will not be exempt from responsibility for offences of publication.

Article 13

No text of law contrary to the power of this law will be applied provided that the application of law No 4 of the year 1988 and its amendments (Law of the Syndicate of Kurdistan Journalists) is taken into consideration.
Final powers

Article 14

The Council of Ministers and relevant bodies must apply the powers of this law.

Article 15

This law will be effective from the date of its application in the Official Gazette of Kurdistan.

Adnan Mufti
Speaker of Kurdistan National Assembly
Necessary reasons for the passing of this Act

Journalism today has a great significance in our Kurdistan society and internationally and it has a broad horizon of freedom available for it and this has entailed drafting a specific law to organise media work in a way that conforms to the spirit of contemporary world and its progresses and makes the citizen aware of the truth of its approaches and events and ensure that the journalists express their views in a way that everyone is respected, for these reasons this law has been passed

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Undermining Kurdish Alliance Would be a Mistake - By Ardalan Hardi

The recent collaboration between the US and Turkey regarding Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), leads one to question why the sudden change in US foreign policy. The Kurdish leadership has been a key foundation of US forces stabilizing Iraq’s government. A closer look into the Kurdish issue in Iraq, and the surrounding region, illustrates that the U.S. support against Kurdish issues is nothing new. The ISG report should have been a red flag for Kurdish leadership of the possibility of being used as a pawn.

The Bush administration was harshly critical of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) report when it was first published. However, the recent actions of the White House, now paint a different picture. The Bush administration is silently implementing the recommendations of The Baker Hamilton report when it is very clear ISG report is opposed to Kurdish interests in the region.

The ISG recommends that the United States significantly increase the number of U.S. military personnel, including combat troops imbedded in and supporting Iraqi Army units. The military surge by the Bush administration in 2007 and the redeployment of Peshmarga forces from the north to the central part of Iraq accomplished exactly what the ISG repot recommended. It seems to have had a drastic affect in stabilizing Iraq which has led to decreased sectarian violence and increased stability across Iraq.

Now that Iraq is supposedly more secure, the Bush administration is slowly turning up the heat on the Kurds to further implement the rest of the recommendations by the Baker Hamilton Group.

One of the recommendations by ISG was that “The United States should support as much as -possible central control by governmental authorities in Baghdad, particularly on the question of oil revenues”. The oil dilemma has been one of the major obstacles in achieving the national reconciliation that is viewed by the U.S. as critical to a united democratic Iraq. While the Iraqi constitution fully supports KRG’s right to have a say in the oil revenues that are generated out of Kurdistan, the central government in Baghdad sees it differently. KRG recently signed more than a dozen contracts with foreign oil companies, but the Iraqi Oil Ministry Husayn al-Shahristani insists the contracts are illegal and has threatened to blacklist foreign firms who sign them. Furthermore, after the KRG signed a production-sharing contract with the U.S.-based Hunt Oil Corporation in September; the U.S. State Department spokesman, Thomas Casey, described it as a hindrance to a national oil law. "It's in the interest of everyone in Iraq to see a national set of laws governing the oil and gas industry...we don't think that these kinds of deals are helpful."

With regards to Kirkuk, the ISG recommends that “a referendum on the future of Kirkuk (as required by the Iraqi Constitution before the end of 2007) would be explosive and should be delayed. This issue should be placed on the agenda of the International Iraq Support Group as part of the New Diplomatic Offensive”.

According to article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, the vote on the referendum had been due to be held by the end of 2007 to decide whether the province of Kirkuk with its oil wealth should go under the control of the KRG. The Kurds have insisted on the referendum as a condition for their support of the Shiite-dominated central government in Baghdad. On her recent visit to Kirkuk, Condoleeza Rice deliberately avoided holding a meeting with the Kurdish leadership. This avoidance would seem to confirm the Bush administrations intent to put pressure on KRG to implement the ISG recommendations on national reconciliation. It would seem that some of these tactics have already forced KRG to make further concessions. The recent decision by the Kurdish administration to delay the public vote on the future of Kirkuk, confirms at least one of KRG’s concessions.

Fully aware of the hostility toward the Kurds by surrounding neighbors, the ISG recommended that a Support Group should be created that consists of the states bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria. Despite the differences between these countries, they all share an interest in making sure that the Kurdish ambition for self rule is crushed. On February 27, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice confirmed that the United States has agreed to join high-level talks with Iran and Syria on the future of Iraq. The unexpected shift in the White House view is just more proof that Bush is silently implementing the ISG report, while publicly disagreeing with it. With the unleashing of the Turkish military on the Kurds, we can see that the ISG report has come full circle.

By opening Iraq’s air space to Turkish warplanes to bomb the Qandil Mountains, under the pretext of attacking PKK, the US is able to kill two birds with one stone. One “bird” is proving to Turkey that the U.S. continues to be their long term ally; unfortunately, the U.S. is alienating the Kurds at the same time. The second “bird” is forcing Kurdish leadership within Iraq into softening their position on article 140, with regards to Kirkuk and the passage of a national oil law. These are considered key issues by the U.S. that will help foster national reconciliation.

In a region where America finds itself with very few friends, the Bush administration is making a colossal mistake in alienating the Kurds who have been one of the strongest supporters of US government in the Middle East.

If the US continues to pressure the Kurdish people in the interest of keeping everyone else in the region happy, it will result in the further deterioration of a relationship that started out with high hopes. The end result will force the Kurds to align themselves with Iran. The Kurds are not interested in being Iran’s ally, nor is it in the benefit of US foreign policy.

The Sunni’s vehemently oppose America, the Shiites are very closely tied to Iran’s Islamic Republic and if we lose the Kurds as allies will loose what little influence we have in Iraq.
The Kurdish leadership should use all that is at their disposal to show that there is no safe Iraq without granting Kurdish rights. They should stand firm on their demands in securing the interest of the Kurdish people they represent. One of the first things that KRG should do is to pull back the Peshmarga forces that are currently helping the US to stabilize Iraq. The Kurdish government should also boycott the Iraqi government until a reasonable treaty is agreed upon by both Iraq’s central government and the US to assure Kurdish rights. Why should the Kurds fight for a secure stabilized Iraq when their rights as a nation are disregarded?

My hope is that the Kurdish leadership can see that what they think is the light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train headed toward wrecking all Kurdish accomplishments. There must be away to stop further implementation of recommendations from the ISG report even if it means sacrificing Iraq’s supposed stability.