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Rights Group: Iraqi Draft Law Violates Free Speech

  • VOA News

A leading human rights group says an Iraqi draft law would restrict free speech in violation of international law and pose a threat to journalists, whistleblowers and peaceful activists.

In a new report, Human Rights Watch said the cybercrimes law includes vague provisions that allow Iraqi authorities to punish speech they believe is a threat to governmental, social or religious interests.

The group urged Iraq's parliament to not approve the law without revising it to remove the rights restrictions.

A Middle East specialist at Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork, said the bill would give Iraqi authorities a tool to suppress dissent, especially on the Internet. He said Iraqi journalists and activists increasingly use the Internet for information and open debate.

Stork also said the way Iraqi lawmakers handle the bill will signal to the world the kind of country they want Iraq to become. He said they can come down on the side of repression or stand up for a society that respects human rights.
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