Iraqi parliament fails to vote on bill restricting protest rights

Riot police stand in front of demonstrators during a protest demanding an overhaul of the electionsÕ supervision commission ahead of provincial elections due in September, in Baghdad,Iraq February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

Baghdad ( The Iraqi parliament failed Monday to vote on a bill that imposes jail terms and fines for peaceful protests unapproved by authorities, deferring the process to a later time.

The draft law, submitted by the Shia-led Iraqi National Alliance, imposes a jail term between 6-12 months, or a fine of 10-25 million dinars, for peaceful protests and gatherings whose organizers fail to approach authorities in a written form.

Sputnik agency quoted Iraqi activist Hamid Gahgih saying the reversal of the planned vote was the result of pressures of activists who attended the session.

“The draft was written by police-minded authors; it seeks to restrict the right for peaceful protests and gatherings,” Gahgih told the agency.

Shamkhi Gabr, another civil society activist, told the agency that activists had voiced reservations about some aspects of the bill, especially the one that requires a prior permission, rather than notification, for holding protests.

Iraqi provinces, topped by Baghdad, have seen recurrent mass protests over the past few years voicing several political, security and economic demands. The most recent protests were led by supporters of the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which decried the formation of a panel intended to oversee the country’s upcoming parliamentary and municipal elections.

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