Court drops charges against media outlet by former deputy speaker

On the left, Aram Sheikh Mohammed, former deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament and Surkew Mohammed, editor-in-chief of Peregraf website.

By KirkukNow and

An Iraqi Kurdistan court has dismissed lawsuits filed by former Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Aram Sheikh Mohammed against the editor-in-chief of Peregraf news website.

The complaints by Deputy Speaker were filed against Paragraf media outlet on charges of "defamation" following several documented journalistic reports published in 2019 about the failure of Aram Sheikh Mohammed to return a number of vehicles to the state after his tenure as deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament.

The local and international organizations, human rights advocates members of the Iraqi and Kurdistan parliaments MPs continuously express their grave concern that the journalists and the freedom of press are increasingly under threat all over Iraq including the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR.

Iraq section of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Iraq in 2021, by the Bureau of Democracy, human rights and labor, documented human rights issues based credible reports of: serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats of violence against journalists, unjustified arrests and prosecutions against journalists; serious restrictions on internet freedom; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

On Sunday, November 6, 2022, the second hearing of the complaints was attended by Surkew Mohammed, editor-in-chief of Paragraf, and his lawyers from the Organization for the Development of Human Rights and Democracy (DHRD).

During the hearing, the judge charged the editor-in-chief of Peregraf according to the Journalism Law and he denied the charges. Sulaymaniyah Public Prosecutor supported the editor-in-chief of Peregraf and the official documents submitted to the court.

The judge then announced the court's told and told the editor-in-chief, "Because there is not sufficient evidence against you, the court decided to release you.”

The complaints by the former deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament were filed in mid-December 2020 against the editor-in-chief of Paragraf. The first hearing of the complaints was held on June 14. A day ahead of that session, the plaintiff dropped the case but the court went on with its procedures. The second session was held on November 6th and the verdict was announced.

The Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq PFAA monitored 280 cases of violations against journalists from May 3, 2021 to May 2, 2022 per which Baghdad and Erbil ranked first with 56 violations, followed by Kirkuk province with 37 cases.

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