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

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