government launches attack on civil society mon 08 jun 09
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have expressed concern over government attempts to control their activities, monitor their funding and curtail their independence.
A proposed new law giving the government the right to supervise NGOs and deny them the right of registration without due reason, has provoked strong civil society opposition. The draft law gives the government the power to dissolve any NGO or freeze its work without any judicial supervision. Additionally, the law obliges NGOs to obtain governmental approval to buy or sell any property.
"Any person who joins a non-registered organization or an organization which is not legally and properly declared shall be imprisoned for a period of six months to three years," stipulates the draft law.
Hadi Najm Lazim, a member of Hamourabi Organization, an NGO working in the field of election awareness, said that the penalties contained in the new law "disturb" him and remind him of the practices of the former totalitarian regime.
â€œOur organization is not registered because of the deadly routine and bureaucratic practices,â€ commented Lazim. â€œI can imagine police raiding our premises and arresting us for giving a lecture on human rights or electoral awareness.â€
A draft copy of the NGO law, which was discussed in parliament in April, was recently leaked to the media, creating an outcry.
The draft law is supposed to replace Bremerâ€™s administrative order number 45 of November 2003, the legal framework currently regulating relations between the government and the NGO sector. Although order 45 was heavily criticized by legal experts and civil society activists, â€œBremerâ€™s order is less stringent than the provisions of the new draft law,â€ said Lazim.
According to Hassan Karim Ati, a lawyer and a member of the Iraqi Society for the Support of Culture the lawâ€™s provisions directly contradict the basic aims of civil society organizations. Ati warned that â€œcivil society will be endangeredâ€ if the draft law is passed.
The law also seeks to monitor the activities of international NGOs, stipulating that any international organization wishing to open in Iraq needs to provide the government with the names, telephone numbers and addresses of its international and local staff. Moreover, the law stipulates that foreign NGOs should not provide more that 25% of local NGO funds.
Raad Hani, the director of Iraqis Without Borders says that "the government is putting obstacles in front of foreign organizations and their support for local NGOs and that this will discourage them in a time when we are in dire need of their support.â€
Critics say that the government failed to consult with civil society in preparing this law.
As a result of widespread criticism, the draft law is now expected to be reviewed and amended, but the date for this review has not been yet specified.
مجتمع مدني: المطلوب قانون يعبر عن رغبة لدعم المجتمع المدني
ناشطون في منظمات المجتمع المدني: اذ اوضح مدير منظمة (الفريق الاسلامي من أجل السلام) في النجف سامي عبدالزهرة المعمار:
ناشطون في منظمات المجتمع المدني:
اذ اوضح مدير منظمة (الفريق الاسلامي من أجل السلام) في النجف سامي عبدالزهرة المعمار: