Rights groups in Iraq slammed a draft law that aims at imposing a series of penalties on several alleged internet crimes and warned of the consequences of such a clampdown on the personal freedoms of the Iraqi people.
The electronic crimes law submitted to the Iraqi parliament stirred controversy among local human rights organizations and was severely criticized by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The draft law was also rejected by members of the parliament Culture and Media Committee, which viewed it as a flagrant violation of basic rights and freedoms.
Iraqi rights organizations and Human Rights Watch expressed strong reservations on several articles in the electronic crimes draft law.
Article 21 of the law states that anyone who violates religious, ethical, or social values through the internet or uses the computer to infringe on other people’s privacy would be sentenced to a minimum of one year in jail, in addition to paying a fine.
Article 22 also sends to jail and imposes a fine on anyone who establishes or runs a website that promotes immoral behavior or posts “indecent” pictures, videos, or movies on the internet.
Article three imposes a life sentence on anyone who deliberately uses the computer and/or the internet to threaten the sovereignty, security, or economic, political, and military interests of the country.
The harshness of the penalties and the vagueness of the crimes for which they are imposed are the major source of concern. People will not accept to have their freedom curbed after they have been liberated following the fall of the Baath Party regime in 2003.