Activists speak out against Iraq’s cybercrime bill

Human rights groups and activists are urging the Iraqi parliament to withdraw a controversial cybercrime bill that would greatly restrict freedom of expression online, if adopted.

The bill imposes long prison sentences for speech-related offences that are only vaguely defined in the text of the bill. Article 3 prescribes a lifetime prison sentence and steep fines for those convicted of using “computers and the internet” to “undermine the independence, the integrity and safety of the country, or its supreme economic, political, military, or security interests” or to “provoke sectarian strife, disturbing the security and public order, or harming the reputation of the country.”

Articles 4 and 6 impose the same punishments for those convicted of promoting ”terrorist acts and ideas” (Art. 4) or ”publish[ing] or broadcast[ing] false or misleading facts with the intention of weakening confidence in the electronic financial system” (Art. 6.)

Earlier this year, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights warned:

“Without a clear and explicit definition of terrorism, it would be easy to use the law to liquidate the resources of political opponents and other activists.”

Internet-related rights are already on shaky ground in Iraq. Last summer, authorities responded to protests denouncing corruption and dire living conditions in Basra and other cities by shutting down the internet. ..Read more..

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