Articles about the new draft of an Iraqi "constitution".

 

- Open Letter to Amnesty International on the Iraqi Constitution -  BRussells Tribunal, 07/10/2005

- Deadline: The Iraqi Constitution - Raed Jarrar, 16/08/2005

- The Iraqi constitution  under Saddam Hussein was among the most secular in the Arab world - AP, 16/08/2005

- Iraq: new constitution threatens women - Bill Weinberg, 16/08/2005

- Despite US pressure, no agreement reached on Iraqi constitution - James Cogan, 16/08/2005

- Chewing on meaningless words - Haifa Zangana, 17/08/2005

- Iraq’s New Constitution - Ghali Hassan, 17/08/2005

- People not puppets - Abdul Ilah Al Bayaty, 18/08/2005

- The primary divide - Hana Al Bayaty, 18/08/2005

- On oil and women’s rights. How new Iraqi constitution compares to old one - Deirdre Griswold, 20/08/2005

- Bush caves in to Islamist constitution for Iraq - Doug Ireland, 21/08/2005  

- The 'New' constitution in Iraq is Illegal - Henk Ruyssenaars,  23/08/2005

- Unfinished Constitution Presented, vote Delayed - Juan Cole, 25/08/2005

- An American constitution for Iraq - Xymphora, 24/08/2005

- How a 'sovereign' state 'effectively' adopts its constitution - Imad Khadduri, 25/08/2005

- The Lords of War - Mike Whitney, 27/08/2005

- Iraq's Constitutional Process. Circus in Baghdad - Laith Al Saud, 27/08/2005

- 'This constitution was written by exiles. We will not accept it' - Richard Beeston, 29/08/2005

- Full Text of the Draft Iraqi Constitution - 29/08/2005

- Constitution born by Caesarian Section - Juan Cole, 29/08/2005

- Sunnis Protest New Constitution in Iraq - 29/08/2005

- The still-born constitution - Imad Khadduri, 30/08/2005

- Khalilzad's Khonstitution - Xymphora, 30/08/2005

- How to stop civil war - George Monbiot , 30/08/2005

- Iraq’s draft constitution: a recipe for neo-colonial rule - James Cogan, 30/08/2005

- Iraqi Communist Party endorses US imposed "Democracy" - 31/08/2005

- How the US got its neoliberal way in Iraq - Herbert Docena,  01/09/2005

- Iraq broken - Hana Al-Bayaty, 01/09/2005

- How Washington imposed a neo-con constitution de-regulating the economy (and strangled the Iraqi Welfare State)

- The Constitution of Iraqi resistance - Dawood Al Shiryan, 02/09/2005

- Iraq’s constitutional quagmire shows Bush plan in shambles - Fred Goldstein, 03/09/2005

- The Constitution under the occupation is another deception - Ibrahim Ebeid, 03/09/2005

-  U.S. Influence 'Too Much' - Dahr Jamail, 05/09/2005

statement on the "referendum" by the National leadership of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, 17/09/2005

- Thug Bush wants to write a Zionist Constitution for Iraqis.., 18/09/2005

- Draft Constitution parts 1 & 2 -  Riverbend,17 & 23/09/2005

- Rushed constitution points Iraq to civil war: report, 26/09/2005

- Leaked constitution sets scene for foreign bases, sectarian tensions, 27/09/2005

- Constitution-making under occupation, 28/9/2005

- US military intensifies campaign of intimidation prior to Iraqi referendum, 28/09/2005

- Voting Shenanigans Cloud Key Province, 28/09/2005

- The Swiss cheese Iraqi Constitution .. Stuffed with Kurdish relish, 29/09/2005

- UN condemns Iraq charter change, 04/10/2005

- Iraq’s constitutional referendum makes a mockery of democracy, 06/10/2005

- Why’s Iraq’s constitution illegal?, 09/10/2005

- More reasons to vote “NO”, 09/10/2005

- Making way for ‘constitution’, New U.S. offensives in Iraq, 09/10/2005
 

 

The 'New' constitution in Iraq is Illegal.

Henk Ruyssenaars, mardi, 23/08/2005 - 10:34

 

FPF - August 23d - 2005 - 'Illegal' - that's what Iraqi opposition leaders now call the three more days the 'parliamentarians' gave themselves to further concoct Iraq's first post-Saddam 'constitution'.

According to US occupation information sources: "the charter's authors, under heavy US pressure, beat a midnight Monday deadline by just minutes to turn over their draft to parliament." Whatever they draft or call it: it's illegal.

In what way ever the US 'Lie Factory' -
http://tinyurl.com/8ncal - and the collaborators in occupied Iraq via the mainstream media may try to 'cook' the books: according to the also by the US signed Geneva Convention*, the Hague Convention (Art. 43) and all earlier valid international laws, it's mandatory c.q. compulsory, that "An occupant" must ensure public order "while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country."

THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS (IV) OF 1949, PROHIBIT THE MODIFICATION OF THE DOMESTIC LAWS OR LEGAL INSTITUTIONS OF THE OCCUPIED POWER.

Whether it's an election, a referendum, courts or a 'new' constitution; doing this in an occupied country is illegal.

Even if the genocidal neocons in the White House have their propaganda machine and 'front man' George Bush praise the not at all successful negotiations: "as the essence of democracy: the establishment of a democratic constitution will be a landmark event in the history of Iraq and the history of the Middle East," US President George W. Bush again and knowingly lied in a speech in Salt Lake City. This 'charter' is legal nor democratic.

SOME PUBLIC OFFICIALS START TELLING THE TRUTH

Where he met resistance from an unexpected side: the mayor of the town himself. Bush critic and Cindy Sheehan's action supporting Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, had called for demonstrations against President Bush, and told the more than 2,000 activists: "Our nation was lied into war. You are true patriots for being here today."

Apparently more and more public officials in the US finally dare - or have become desperate by what they also see happening - and start telling the truth.

That can never be expected from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - who like the rest of the neocon's administration praises Iraqi politicians for showing: "determination and resolve in the face of extremism and violence." -

However: the main$tream propaganda sewers are activated, saying that 'once approved by the Iraqi 'legislature', the so called 'Charter' will be presented to the victims of occupied Iraq in a referendum.

The US's 'Lie Factory" - [
http://tinyurl.com/2rg5o ] - and Newspeak divisions will stage the same 'Potemkin cover' as last time, at those so called 'free elections'; with most people knowing that whatever is done with this piece of paper: the illegal 'constitution' will be worth less than the paper it's written upon.

But it will be valid and important as evidence of also this breach of the Geneva Conventions - in the court cases which in the nearby future must and will take place, concerning the war crimes of the PNAC neocons and their ilk.

It's all illegal, whatever the occupying ''Coalition of the Killing'- forces plans to do, like trying to change the Iraqi constitution in this ravaged country.

The Geneva Convention, Article 54 reads: “The Occupying Power may not alter the status of public officials or judges in the occupied territories, or in any way apply sanctions to or take any measures of coercion or discrimination against them, should they abstain from fulfilling their functions for reasons of conscience.”

Many in the US and Pentagon still have not understood that Might does not make Right.

It is on the other hand a miracle that some of the victims of the US 'liberation' still have some humor intact:

The best comment came from an Iraqi who said he wants to move to Japan, because:

My father is a Sunni, and my mother a Shia,

so I think I'm a sushi...

Henk Ruyssenaars

FOOTNOTES/LINKS:

Reference guide to the Geneva Conventions - Url.:
http://www.genevaconventions.org/

Some of the latest: Cindy Sheehan vs Bush - Url.:
http://technorati.com/search/Sheehan

Iraq: very good information via Dahr Jamail’s web site at - Url.:
www.dahrjamailiraq.com

FOREIGN PRESS FOUNDATION
http://tinyurl.com/8zhvo  
Editor : Henk Ruyssenaars
http://tinyurl.com/amn3q  
The Netherlands
FPF@Chello.nl

*'The war in Iraq is illegal' - BBC video & text - interview United Nation's Secretary General Kofi Annan - Url.:
http://tinyurl.com/5pl2v
* MSNBC - Poll: Ninety-four (94) percent believes that George Bush and the neocon media mislead the nation to go to war with Iraq - Url.:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8248969/
*Corporate News Media: Incompetent, Criminally Negligent or Complicit? - Url.:
http://tinyurl.com/cqpfe
* Brainwashed? - Take the free 'Gullibility Factor' test to find out if you're really a mind slave or not; Url.:
http://tinyurl.com/cbgnc
*Saturday, September 24 - 2005 - Massive March, Impeachment Rally & Anti-war Fair, Gather 11:00AM at the Washington Monument - Info - Url.:
http://tinyurl.com/bnw4c
FPF-COPYRIGHT NOTICE - In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107 - any copyrighted work in this message is distributed by the Foreign Press Foundation under fair use, without profit or payment, to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the information. Url.:
http://liimirror.warwick.ac.uk/uscode/17/107.html

http://www.genevaconventions.org/
Whether it is delayed or not: it is not allowed.


Draft Constitution - Parts I and II

Riverbend, Baghdad burning

September 17 & 23, 2005

I’ve been reading and re-reading the Iraqi draft constitution since the beginning of September. I decided to ignore the nagging voice in my head that kept repeating, “A new constitution cannot be legitimate under an occupation!” and also the one that was saying, “It isn’t legitimate because the government writing it up isn’t legitimate. I put those thoughts away and decided to try to view the whole situation as dispassionately as possible.

It was during the online search for the *real* draft constitution that the first problem with the document hit me. There are, as far as I can tell, three different versions. There are two different Arabic versions and the draft constitution translated to English in the New York Times a few weeks ago differs from them both. I wish I could understand the Kurdish version- I wonder if that is different too. The differences aren’t huge- some missing clauses or articles. Then again, this is a constitution- not a blog… one would think precision is a must.

The constitution is basically in seven parts: Preamble, Chapter 1: Basic Principles, Chapter 2: Rights and Freedoms, Chapter 3: Federal Authorities, Chapter 4: Powers of the Federal Authorities, Chapter 5: Regional Authorities, and Chapter 6: Transitional and Final Guidelines.

I scanned the preamble once without bothering to re-read it every time I saw a new version of the constitution. It is somewhat long and dark and reads more like a political statement than the opening lines of what should be a document that will go down in history. I later realized that this was a mistake. In the varying versions, the preamble differs in its opening lines, as freelance journalist Alexander Gainem notes in the following article:

Furthermore, confusion has been added by the existence of two versions of the same draft, each with a different introduction in Arabic. The first begins, "We the peoples of Iraq..." while the second version starts off with "We the peoples of the valley of two rivers..." It is unclear which version will be submitted to the United Nations but there is stark distinction between the two versions. The latter would seem to indicate that people living in Iraq are not constitutionally obliged to call themselves Iraqi and this could potentially open the door for changing the name of the country at some point.

Beginning with the first chapter, Basic Principles, there are several interesting articles. Article (2) seems to be the biggest concern for journalists and analysts abroad. It states:

Article (2):

  1. Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation, and no law that contradicts its fixed principles and rules may be passed.
  2. No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy, or the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.
  3. The constitution respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people, and guarantees the full religious rights for all individuals and the freedom of creed and religious practices.

Now, I’m a practicing Muslim female. I believe in the principles and rules of Islam I practice- otherwise I wouldn’t be practicing them. The problem is not with Islam, the problem is with the dozens of interpretations of Islamic rules and principles. Islam is like any other religion in that its holy book and various teachings may be interpreted in different ways. In Iraq we see this firsthand because we have ample example of varying Islamic interpretations from two neighbors- Iran and Saudi Arabia. Who will decide which religious rules and principles are the ones that shouldn’t be contradicted by the constitution?

In the old constitution that was being used up until the war, the ‘Temporary Constitution’ of 1970 which came into implementation on the 16th of July, 1970, the only reference to Islam is in Article (4) which simply states: “Islam is the religion of the state.” There is nothing about its role in the constitution.

In one version of the constitution printed in some newspapers in August was another potentially problematic article in the first chapter. It was numbered Article (12). As far as I can tell, it isn’t in the English version of the constitution- and has possibly been lifted from the final version. Article (12) states (and please excuse the translation):

Article (12):
The religious Marja’ia is respected for its spiritual role and it is a prominent religious symbol on the national and Islamic fronts; and the state cannot tamper with its private affairs.

Marja’ia in Arabic means ‘reference’. Basically, this article discusses the ‘religious reference’ which should mean, I suppose, any religious Marja’ia in Iraq. However, in Iraq, any time the word Marja’ia is used, it is in direct allusion to the Shia religious figures like Sistani and the other Marja’ia figures in Najaf and Karbala.

Why is it that the state can have no influence on the Marja’ia but there is no clause saying that, in return, the Marja’ia cannot tamper in matters of state or constitution? The Marja’ia has influence over the lives of millions of Iraqis (and millions of Muslims worldwide, for that matter). The laws of the Marja’ia for some supersede the laws of state. For example, if the Marja’ia declares the religiously acceptable marrying age to be 10 and the state declares the legal age to be 18, won’t that be unconstitutional? The state cannot pass laws that do not agree with the basic principles and rules of Islam and for millions, the Marja’ia sets those rules.

The most interesting article in Chapter 1, however, was in the first draft of the constitution published on August 22 by some newspapers but it isn’t in the final draft (at least it’s not in the New York Times English version). It is numbered Article (16), in the version of the draft constitution it appeared in:

Article (16):

  1. It is forbidden for Iraq to be used as a base or corridor for foreign troops.
  2. It is forbidden to have foreign military bases in Iraq.
  3. The National Assembly can, when necessary, and with a majority of two thirds of its members, allow what is mentioned in 1 and 2 of this article.

This one is amusing because in the first two parts of the article, foreign troops are forbidden and then in the third, they’re kind of allowed… well sometimes- when the puppets deem it necessary (to keep them in power). What is worrisome about this article, on seeing the final version of the draft constitution, is its mysterious disappearance- in spite of the fact that it leaves a lot of leeway for American bases in Iraq. Now, in the final version of the constitution, there is nothing about not having foreign troops in the country or foreign bases, at the very least. The ‘now you see it’/ ‘now you don’t’ magical effect of this article, especially, reinforces the feeling that this constitution is an ‘occupation constitution’.

When we get to Chapter 2: Rights and Freedoms, the cutting and pasting really begins. Upon first reading it, many of the articles and clauses sounded very familiar. After a few, it hit me that some of them were taken almost word for word from the Temporary Constitution of 1970, implemented up until the war (this constitution having been based on the constitution before it).

Ironically, well over half of the section “Rights and Freedoms” was lifted from the 1970 Temporary Constitution, making the moral of the story: It’s not the fancy words in the constitution, it’s the government that will actually implement said words.

The rights of women in the new constitution are quite murky. In one version, printed in the New Sabah newspaper in August, there is a clause about the state guaranteeing the rights of women in their family, social and economic setting and equality between men and women in order to allow women to make substantial contributions to the state as long as it does not contradict the constitution! This article is not in the final draft.

In the final draft of the constitution, women are mentioned as having the right to vote and run for government. The rest of the references to women are hardly flattering- women are mentioned in context with ‘children and the elderly’. In the 1970 constitution, women aren’t mentioned at all. References are made to “Iraqis” or “citizens”- this does not single out women as needing special attention or care because they are less capable people needing male guidance or surveillance.

Example:

Article (30):
1st -- The state guarantees social and health insurance, the basics for a free and honorable life for the individual and the family -- especially children and women -- and works to protect them from illiteracy, fear and poverty and provides them with housing and the means to rehabilitate and take care of them. This shall be regulated by law.

Women's rights won't be apparent until the Personal Status Law is defined clearly. Former Iraqi Personal Status Law was the most advanced in the region. It secured advanced rights for Iraqi women. This, like everything else, is subject to change and the following article makes this very clear:

Article (39):

Iraqis are free in their adherence to their personal status according to their own religion, sect, belief and choice, and that will be organized by law.

Basically, Iraqis will be able to practice their own personal status laws according to religion and sect. This article, in itself, is a can of worms in the making and only a set of lawyers and a group of Muslim religious scholars will ever be able to explain the implications properly.

I’ll blog more tomorrow about the issue of federalism, and the coming referendum- this post is already long enough.

The final version (Version 3.0) of the Iraqi draft constitution was finally submitted to the UN about ten days ago. It was published in English in the New York Times on the 15th of September.

I blogged about some of the articles in the first two chapters last week, so I’ll jump right to Chapter Three: The Federal Authorities. The first notable difference between the final version of the constitution published in the New York Times and the Arabic version published in Al-Sabah is in article (47) under chapter three which sets down the general conditions for the ‘Council of Representatives’. In the Arabic version, there 6 conditions, while in the English one there are only five.

The condition that isn’t in the English version is the one mentioning that women should make up 25% of the members of the Council of Representatives.

Article (47):

4- Voting laws aspire to achieve women’s representation on the Council of Representatives of a ratio of not less than a quarter.


Previously, when rights groups complained that the draft did not go far enough in ensuring that women's rights were preserved and protected from an Iranian style theocracy, supporters of the draft would point to the above clause and say "see, women's rights ARE protected".

Upon reading the Arabic version of the constitution, that is not necessarily true - the key word in this phrasing is "aspire". This translates accordingly: it isn't mandatory to have 25% women on the council-it is an aspiration, like many of the noble aspirations set down on paper by our esteemed Puppet government.

Almost two years ago, the Governing Council (then headed by SCIRI puppet extraordinaire Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim) came out with Decree 137 to abolish the Personal Status Law. Women’s rights groups rose up and demanded that Paul Bremer turn the decision around- which he did. We were made grateful that our secular laws were not abolished by the pro-occupation puppets!

With this draft constitution, Decree 137 has virtually been brought back to life and aspiring to have 25% of the Council of Representatives female isn’t going to compensate for that- especially when the overwhelming majority of the above-mentioned women are from parties like Da’awa and SCIRI.

I’m wondering- where is the outrage of pro-occupation, pro-war women’s rights advocates? Why the deafening silence, ladies?

According to Article (58) in the same section, the Council of Representatives will be responsible for the selection (through vote) of the president. Why shouldn’t presidential elections be through direct vote?

On the issue of the President of the Republic, there is an interesting article in the Executive Authority section of the same chapter. Article (65) lists the conditions for the President of the Republic (which are the same for the Prime Minister):

Article (65):

The candidate for the president's post must:

1st -- be Iraqi by birth from Iraqi parents.
2nd -- be legally competent and have reached the age of 40.
3rd -- have a good reputation and political experience and be known for his integrity, rectitude, justice and devotion to the homeland.
4th -- not have been convicted of a crime that violates honor.

“Be Iraqi by birth from Iraqi parents” is significant in that it emphasizes that BOTH parents must be Iraqi (this is more pronounced in the Arabic version of the constitution with the use of grammar ‘abouwayn iraqiayn’). While this seems very natural it is noteworthy because it means that secular American darling Iyad Allawi is out of the picture as candidate for the presidency and the prime ministry. It is very well-known in Iraq that Allawi’s mother is Lebanese from a prominent Lebanese family (and related to Chalabi’s wife).

Saudi Arabia is speaking up lately against Iranian influence in Iraq. Many suspect it is because Saudi favorites like Ghazi Ajeel Al-Yawir and Allawi have been sidelined and Iran-influenced politicians like Jaafari and Hakim are now in power.

“Not have been convicted of a crime that violates honor” is also interesting. Does that mean it’s ok to have been convicted of other types of crimes? Like Chalabi, for example- embezzlement- is that ok? Just what crimes violate honor and what crimes keep honor intact

Federalism...

Chapter 5: Authorities of the Regions is troubling. I have no problem with the concept of federalism. We’ve been accustomed to an autonomous Kurdistan for decades. The current laws about federalism and regional policies in the draft constitution might better be titled the “Roadmap to Divide Iraq”.

Article (115) is especially worrying. It states:

Article (115):

Every province or more has the right to establish a region based on a request for a referendum to be submitted in one of the following ways:

1st -- A request from one-third of the members in each of the provincial councils in the provinces that wish to establish a region.
2nd -- A request from one-tenth of the voters in each of the provinces that wish to establish a region.

This means that any two provinces can decide they’d like to become a ‘region’ with laws and regulations differing from surrounding regions. Article (116) fortifies this right with:
 

Article (116):
The region writes a constitution for itself, defines the structure of the region's powers and its authorities as well as the mechanism of using these powers in a way that does not run contrary to the constitution.)

So basically, each region will get their own constitution which must not run contrary to the draft constitution. Also, according to the language article (4), clause 5:

Article (4):
5th -- Any region or province can take a local language as an additional official language if a majority of the population approves in a universal referendum.
The abovementioned region may take on its own ‘local’ language.

Article (117) has a clause that authorizes “regional authorities” to:

Article (117):
5th -- The regional government shall be in charge of all that's required for administering the region, especially establishing and regulating internal security forces for the region such as police, security and guards for the region.)

So here’s a riddle: what do you call a region with its own constitution, its own government, its own regional guard and possibly its own language? It’s quite simple- you call it a country.

Article (137) of the Transitional Guidelines in Chapter 6 says:

Article (137):

The Transitional Administration Law for the Iraqi State and its appendix are voided upon creation of the new government, except for what appears in paragraph (a) of Article 53 and Article 58 of the Transitional Administration Law.)

The above article refers to the Transitional Administration Law set out by Paul Bremer during the very early days of the occupation. This is one of the only clauses that shall remain:

Article 53 [Kurdistan Regional Government]

(A) The Kurdistan Regional Government is recognized as the official government of the territories that were administered by the that government on 19 March 2003 in the governorates of Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk, Diyala and Neneveh. The term "Kurdistan Regional Government" shall refer to the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Kurdistan Council of Ministers, and the regional judicial authority in the Kurdistan region.

This is outrageous because the areas administered by ‘that government’ on the 19th of March, 2003 are highly disputed. Kirkuk, Diyala and Nenevah (Mosul) are certainly not parts of the autonomous Kurdish region, no matter what the Kurdistan Regional Government decided on the 19th of March, 2003- the very beginning of the war.

And Kurdistan is really the least of Iraq’s worries. There is talk of possibly setting up an autonomous region in the south that will be run by pro-Iran extremists Da’awa and SCIRI. Should provinces like Karbala and Najaf decide to form a region in the south, America can congratulate itself on the creation of an extended Iran. Already, these provinces are running on their own rules and regulations, with their own militias.

Federalism is ok when a country is stable. It’s fantastic when countries or troubled regions are attempting to unite. In present-day Iraq it promises to be catastrophic. It will literally divide the country and increase instability. This is especially true with the kind of federalism they want to practice in Iraq.

Federalism based on geography is acceptable, but federalism based on ethnicity and sect? Why not simply declare civil war and get it over with?

riverbendblog.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_riverbendblog_archive.html#112750573632819