Tuesday, July 26, 2005

If this is going to be the final draft, then I'm going to say "NO".

This morning, Al-Sabah had the exclusive right to publish the current draft of the constitution.
This draft will be submitted to the national Assembly to get the Assembly's approval before putting it to the October referendum.
Of course the draft is tool long to fully translate and it would've taken me a few more days to do that so I have chosen the most important parts of it and translated them.
Here are they for you to read:

*Words in between brackets are still not agreed upon by all members of the CDC.
*My comments are in Italics.

Section One:
Fundamental principles:

1-the republic of Iraq (the Islamic, federal) is a sovereign, independent country and the governing system is a democratic, republican, federal one.

The Islamic republic of Iraq!? NO WAY.

2-Islam is the official religion of the state and it is the main source of legislations and it is not allowed to make laws that contradict the fundamental teachings of Islam and its rules (the ones agreed upon by all Muslims) and this constitution shall preserve the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people (with its Shea't majority and its Sunni component) and respect the rights of all other religions.

This is the deadliest point if approved; Islam or any religion cannot and must not be the main source of legislation.

3-The Iraqi community is made of two main ethnicities; these are Arabic and Kurdish and of other main ethnicities; these are Turkmen, Chalideans, Assyrian, Armenian, Shabak and (Persian) and Yazidi and Mendayeen, all of which are equal in rights and duties of citizenship.

Why is it that no one heard of this ethnic component before? Or at least lets say that no one heard them (if they exsited) say that they want to be recognized as Persian Iraqis!

4-Arabic language is the official language of the Iraqi state and Kurdish language is (together with Arabic) the official language in the region of Kurdistan and for the central government, regions and provinces have the right to choose any local language as an additional official language if the majority of its citizens approved the choice in a referendum.

5-The Iraqi state is part of the Islamic and Arabic worlds or (the Iraqi state is a founding member of the Arab league and the Islamic conference organization).

Do we really need to put that in the constitution? After all, our "Muslim and Arab brothers" brought us nothing but troubles.

6-Sovereignty is for the law and the people is the source of authorities, practicing it through direct general secret voting (or by secret direct voting and referendum) and through its constitutional institutions.

8-The Iraqi state is one entity in land, people and sovereignty.

9-The family is the bas of the community and the state preserves the family's genuine Iraqi identity that is based on patriot, religious and ethical values and the state also is responsible for protecting maternity and childhood and looks after the youths and provide the appropriate environment to assure the development of their skills and capabilities.

I don't know for sure what they mean by saying "the state preserves the family's genuine Iraqi identity that is based on patriot, religious and ethical values" but it doesn't sound great anyway

10-Basic freedoms and rights that are stated in the constitution are granted for everyone and no law that undermines them shall be made (to be attached to no 2).

11-All ideologies that include racism, terrorism and "takfir" (or promote or publicize these concepts) are banned and especially the Saddmist Ba'ath and this one cannot be part of the political plurality of the state.

12-Internal and foreign relationship of the Iraqi state are to be built on principles of peace and cooperation with all nations, especially the neighboring ones.

13-Iraqi state commits to the international treaties unless if this could result in a conflict with this constitution.

14-Iraqi armed forces in all their forms and systems are part of the Iraqi people resembles it ethnic, religious and sectarian composition.
These forces are under the command of the civil authorities. Its duty is to defend the Iraqi state and must not interfere with political affairs and has no role in transition of power.
Using these forces in oppressing the Iraqi people is banned.

15-the religious references (the clergy) enjoys its independence and advisory position as a highly valued religious and national symbol (there are some reservations on this clause).

16-Holy places and shrines in the Iraqi state possess a legal character for what they represent as religious and cultural beings and the state has to preserve their sacredness and to protect the freedom of practicing ceremonies in these holy places.

17-the center of Baghdad is the capital of the Iraqi state.
Designating another city as a capital is possible under a special legislation.

18-The flag of the state, national and religious holidays are to be chosen and identified according to a law.

Section Two
Basic rights and public freedoms

1-All Iraqis are equal before the law regardless of gender, race, color, opinion, religion, sect or belief and discrimination based on these differences is prohibited.

2-Every Iraq has the right to live and be safe and enjoy freedom and privacy and it is not allowed to deprive any individual of these rights unless in accordance with the law and after a judicial order from a specialized judicial authority.

3-All Iraqis are to have equal opportunities in accordance with the law.

4/a-Iraqi nationality is a right for every Iraqi and a citizen may not be stripped of this nationality for any reason.
It is the foundation of the individual's citizenship and the source of his rights and duties and a citizen has the right to claim it back if it was taken from him.
Having more than one nationality is allowed.

4/b-The Iraqi is everyone born for Iraqi parents and a non-Iraqi women married to an Iraqi man has the right to claim Iraqi nationality after staying for 5 continuous years in Iraq after the marriage.

4/c-Iraqi nationality must not be granted for political reasons or in any way that could change the demography of the state.

4/d-The related processes are to be regulated by laws.

5-It is not allowed to exile an Iraqi citizen from his country and he cannot be prohibited from traveling inside or inside Iraq.

6-The state protects the basic rights of women including equality with men in accordance to the Islamic share'at and the state helps the women in creating balance between their duties within their families and their duties within the community.

Equality according to Islamic Share'at? Thia is totally new to me!

7/b-It is prohibited to employ children in demeaning jobs or in any job that does not suit their ages.
The state has to take enough measures to protect children

8-Private property is a protected right and every Iraqi has the right to use, invest and benefit from this property according to the law.
Private property cannot be confiscated unless for a case that serves public benefits and only after paying a fast and sufficient compensation.

9-Human freedom and dignity are protected by the law and no one can be arrested or interrogated unless by judicial orders.
All sorts of physical and mental torture or inhuman treatment are prohibited and any confession made under torture or threats is of no judicial value and those who have their rights violated have the right to as for to be compensated for the damage that was inflicted.

10-Papers of preliminary interrogation must be submitted to the specialized judge within 24 hours after the arrest is made and this 24 hour period is subject to renewal for one time only and for the same duration.

11-Every person has the right to express his opinion in any means granted by the law provided that order and ethics are not breached.
The state provides the following:
a-The freedom of press, journalism, advertising and peaceful demonstrations.
b-The freedom to establish organizations, political parties and union as well as the freedom of joining these entities.

12-The freedom of belief and religion is protected and so is the freedom to practice them in accordance with the law provided that the practice does not violate order and ethics.

13-Every person has the right to enjoy personal privacy and this includes:
a-The privacy of homes is protected and it's forbidden to search or enter homes unless in accordance with the law.
b-Conventional mail, E mails, faxes and phones are to remain secret and private and they must not be monitored unless there's a judicial or security need for that.

14/a-Crimes and punishments are to be defined only by the law.
b-The judiciary is independent and is liable to nothing but the law.

15-Every one has the right to claim justice in a court of law.
16-The right of defense is protected in all stages of trials.
17-The defendant is innocent until he's found guilty in a court of law.
18-Trilas are public unless otherwise stated by the court.
19-A defendant may not be tried for the same charge more than once unless new evidence appeared and no punishment harsher than the one valid at the time of committing the crime can be imposed.
20-Punishment is restricted to the criminal.
22-No law functions in a retrograde way unless otherwise stated by the law.
23-the defendant may not be forced to give a statement for any reason.
24-The court appoints a lawyer for the defendant and on the state's expense if the defendant was not able to pay for a lawyer.
25-The best law for the defendant is to be used.

27/b-The establishment of civil society organizations is prohibited if these organizations could harm the community.
The formation of militias or paramilitary organizations is prohibited whether they were in secret or in public.

Full document in Arabic.

This was all I could translate in the time I had and I guess this is what Iraqis care about most.
The parts I left are talking about the relationship between the regions/counties and the central administartion and other subjects like the rules for nominating the members of the supreme court and the duties of the different components of the government and these I will probably translate later.

Now back to what I think of this draft,

Although this document will be subject to further negotiations and modifications, my first look at it made me decide that I'm going to say "NO" to this constitution.
Islam has been introduced in many clauses and not only Islam, sectarianism was introduced into the draft in a disgusting way and frankly speaking, such things will make me feel so unsafe if results of the referendum came positive for this draft.

However, what eases my worries is that we're going to have the chance to say "YES" or "NO" and all of us know that it's much better to allow this critical step to take the time it needs than to end up with a useless (or even harmful) constitution.
And anyway, even this draft is way better than the 'no constitution' state we lived in for decades.

The other reassuring factor here is that amendments can be done two years after the constitution is 1st approved and then once again four years after that.

We have fought for a long time to reach the point where we can write a constitution that serves our needs and protects our future from oppression and dictatorship.
I say it once again, we're practicing AND learning democracy at the same time and the people may be fooled once but they can't be fooled all the time.


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