Details Of Iraqi Draft Fundamental Law

Details of Iraqi Draft Fundamental Law

The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas [“Firebrand”: Arabic URL] has published a draft of the Fundamental Law on which the Interim Governing Council is working. It will function as Iraq’s constitution until a new one can be fashioned, and will allow a transitional government to be installed this summer.

I thought some of the provisions were noteworthy or ironic.

To wit: The “system” of Iraq is said to be “democratic, parliamentary, pluralistic, and federal; the Kurdistan region remains with its current arrangement in the transitional phase.”

(The Kurds had been pressing for a consolidated Kurdish province instead of being spread through 6 or so current provinces. They have been given the three provinces where they form a clear majority, and have been allowed to consolidate governance in these three. The issue of Kurds in the other three provinces will be taken up by the transitional government or the constitutional convention.)

The Fourth Article, says, “Islam is the official religion of the state and is considered a fundamental source of legislation. This Law respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the complete freedom of the other religions and their practice of their rites.”

This article had been insisted on by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and its insertion was one of the first attempts by Bremer and the IGC to compromise with him. It is similar to a provision put into Egyptian law to mollify the Muslim Brotherhood there. The Egyptian constitution initially recognized Islamic law as “a” source of legislation. After the MB agitated (and after splinter groups now related to al-Qaeda engaged in violence), the government changed the phraseology to “Islamic law is the principal source of legislation” and reviewed thousands of laws to ensure they did not contradict Islamic law. It is not entirely clear that fundamentalist forces in Iraqi society do in fact interpret Islamic law in such a way that they would protect the rights of the religious minorities.

Article six recognizes Arabic as the official language, but says the situation in Kurdistan will be respected. Why have an “official language” anyway? Or why not have two?

Article 7 recognizes “the people” as the “source of authority.”

Article 9: “Iraqis are equal in rights and duties regardless of race (al-jins), national origin, sect, or ethnicity (al-`irq), and all are equal before the law.”

Article 11: “An individual has a right to education, well-being, work and security, and the right to a just and open trial.”

(I hate to disillusion them, but the Bushism into which the poor dears are being inducted doesn’t provide any of those things.) Seriously, it is amazing that a creature of this administration should stipulate “open trials”! Ashcroft should take a lesson.

Article 16: “It is not permitted to carry a weapon for self-defense without a permit issued in accordance with the law.”

Aw, how come the Iraqis get the good laws? Let’s hope the NRA doesn’t hear about this one.

Article 18, point 1: “No Iraqi citizen may be deprived of Iraqi citizenship.”

But, but, I thought the Patriot Act II envisaged stripping some Americans of their citizenship. You mean the Iraqi Fundamental Law has more protections in it than the Ashcroft constitution?

Article 20: The transitional parliament will have one member for every 100,000 citizens, i.e., about 250 seats at the moment.

Several later articles create a “presidential council” (with 3 rotating presidents!) that will appoint the prime minister and his cabinet (!) and have the power to veto the parliament’s legislation. This is an extremely cumbersome executive.

Article 41, point 5: The transitional parliament will specify the decentralized prerogatives of the provinces, which are not included in the Federal purview.

point 6: “The guarantee of the rights of women to political and other participation in a manner that is equal to the rights of men in the entire society.”

And the Republicans stopped the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States!

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