Protests and civil society advocacy efforts put restrictive law on hold
Expression and Peaceful Assembly
The Iraqi parliament has postponed its vote on a draft freedom of expression and peaceful assembly law for an indefinite period, following widespread popular protests against the proposed legislation. Civil society representatives met previously with parliamentary committees to advocate for postponing the vote that was originally scheduled to take place on 15th May 2017. Civil society expressed concern that the legislation would close the space for free expression by criminalising public criticism of religious figures or symbols. In addition, civil society organisations, trade unions and labour organisations as well as a large number of citizens mobilised on 14th May in mass demonstrations against the bill.
Iraqi human rights defender and civil society leader Hanaa Edwar received the Defender of Human Rights and Freedom of Expression award for the month of May 2017, within the campaign, “Supporting Human Rights Defenders and Freedom of Expression,” organised by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Maharat Foundation and GCHR, in cooperation with IFEX.
Edwar is known for her relentless defence of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. She has also worked to improve women's rights in Iraq. She is the co-founder and chair of the Iraqi Al-Amal Association and co-founder of the Civil Initiative for the Preservation of the Constitution. Edwar currently works in cooperation with Iraqi civil society to campaign for the adoption of the Freedom of Assembly and Peaceful Demonstration Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Protection of Diversity Act and the Prevention of Discrimination Act. She was also awarded the Seán MacBride Peace Prize in 2011 by the International Peace Bureau.