Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

Protecting Individual Rights in Post-Invasion Iraq

Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

Protecting Individual Rights in Post-Invasion Iraq

Article excerpt

On October 14, 2007, Salih Saif Aldin was murdered while on assignment in Baghdad for the Washington Post.1 The thirty-twoyear- old Iraqi reporter often took on the Washington Post's most dangerous assignments, venturing into neighborhoods like the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad and meeting with leaders of insurgent groups.2 Saif Aldin was familiar with the danger journalists faced in Iraq: he received a death threat in 2005 and was severely beaten later that year.3 In 2006, after he reported that Tikriti officials had looted one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, he learned of a $50,000 bounty issued on his head.4 Iraqi police believe that members of a Sunni tribal organization killed Saif Aldin, though some residents of Saif's neighborhood accused Iraqi military officials.5

Salih Saif Aldin's story is not an isolated occurrence. Soran Mama Hama, a reporter for the Kurdish magazine Livin, was killed in Kirkuk on July 21, 2008, after writing articles critical of local authorities.6 Two ABC News employees were ambushed and killed while driving home from work in 2007.7 "Pioneering" female journalist and correspondent for the national Iraqi press agency Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari was killed in Mosul on June 7, 2007.8 According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization dedicated to press freedom, 150 journalists have been killed in Iraq since 2003 as a direct result of their work,9 including ninety-three murders.10

Nor are the murders of journalists the only threats in Iraq to press freedom, free expression, or civil liberties in general. In August 2009, the Iraqi government began requiring Internet cafes to register with the government, the first step in heightened Internet monitoring and censorship.11 Women's rights have suffered as political groups fight against each other.12 Homosexuals, like journalists, have faced kidnappings, torture, and extrajudicial killings, often without official reprisal.13 Additionally, unlike the 2004 Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period (Transitional Administrative Law or TAL), the 2005 Constitution introduced conditions on fundamental rights based on precepts of Islamic law and morality.14

The Republic of Iraq is in the midst of a political and legal transformation, with far-reaching implications at both the national and individual level. The 2003 U.S.-led invasion, through a series of transitional regimes, led to a massive restructuring that included the adoption of a new constitution, modification of Iraq's judicial system, and changes to its laws.15 With these institutional changes have come changes in the civil liberties afforded to Iraqi citizens- changes that, as highlighted by the examples above, are not always positive.16 Dissatisfaction with some of these changes in Iraqi law has led to protests and opposition to the new system and its consequences.17

Other states in the Middle East have gone through comparable transformations, such as Iran after the Revolution of 1979.18 Like Iraq, these countries have experienced social upheaval and discontent as a result of changes in law and the judicial system.19 Further, other states, like Afghanistan, Egypt, and Libya, are currently undergoing similar changes.20 Given the regional history of protests following regime changes and the prospect of similar protests in other countries, the lessons learned during Iraq's transition can help to develop a mechanism for dealing with this potential conflict both for Iraq's benefit and as an example to the region.

One way that Iraq can minimize the repercussions caused by the transition from the 2004 Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) to the 2005 Constitution is to allow its citizens time to acclimate to and understand new rights, crimes, and legal standards. Specifically, this Note proposes implementing a choice of law mechanism utilizing phased implementation of new laws, guidance from international law, developing more certain definitions of key legal terms, and improving enforcement. …

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