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Monday, September 19, 2005

International human rights removed from Iraqi constitution

Today, amid allegations that the US had an inappropriate level of influence in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution, it will be reported that Article 44 of the draft Iraqi Constitution was removed from the final draft. The original Article 44 emphasised Iraqis' right to enjoy guarantees and safeguards enshrined in international human rights treaties ratified by Iraq. Article 44 had read as follows (translation from this site):
All individuals have the right to enjoy the rights stated in international human rights agreements and treaties endorsed by Iraq that don't run contrary to the principles and rules of this constitution.
The new version now reads (translation from this site):
Restricting or limiting any of the freedoms and liberties stated in this Constitution may only happen by, or according to, law and as long as this restriction or limitation does not undermine the essence of the right or freedom.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International will express concern at the move, stating
While the proposed new Constitution of Iraq encompasses many positive human rights provisions, removing this provision is a serious step backwards ... These treaty obligations to respect fundamental human rights were not respected under Saddam Hussein but the inclusion of Article 44 in the new Constitution represented a real opportunity for Iraq to open a new chapter in human rights protection. It is one that must not be lost.


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