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Jeez, you?d think their (Iraq's) first freedom-enshrining Constitution would be getting more press (did they have this problem in 1776?) Why is it we have to go to a non-media source for news that should be trumpeted across the front pages of every freedom-loving newspaper in the world?
Hmmm. Sadly, I?m starting to think ?freedom-loving press? is an oxymoron, at least when we?re talking about someone?s freedom besides their own. This little puff piece -- http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050722/wl_mideast_afp/iraqudayqusay_050722182943 -- seems a rather grotesque paean to the sadistic, tyrannical rapists and murderers that were Saddam?s sons. Like most media bias, it?s not even so much what it says (?fond memories of Uday and Qusay,? all reference to their vicious brutality assiduously omitted from mention ? oh, and the guy who turned them in? a dirtbag), but just the fact that they?re reporting this crap (sorry, can?t come up with a more-fitting word) rather than the historic creation of a consensual, constitutional gov?t with defined individual liberties. Ho-hum, democracy and freedom being codified for 25 million people. Yawn. Hey, look! Some of Saddam's old followers miss the tyrant princes! Now that's news!
It?s bad enough the mainstream press often seems to think Fourth Estate actually means Fifth Column. But now they?re not just undermining the government or promoting an antiwar agenda, but even seem to have lost their respect for the very qualities that made America such a noble enterprise.
The great pamphleteer Tom Paine must be rolling over in his grave to see the state of printed discourse today. Based on his views, I'm guessing today he'd be a libertarian-leaning blogger -- and he'd still love America.
On July 19th I posted on a leak of the draft Iraqi bill of rights, which was published in Arabic on June 30 and translated to English on July 6. After I posted about that draft, a new one was released on July 20 and subsequently translated by Nathan Brown at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Given the three weeks of separation between these two drafts, significant and progressive changes can be seen since June 30.
One of the smallest yet significant changes is to provisions three and four of article one. As you may recall from the previous post, it excluded Israelis from candidacy for citizenship and prevented Iraqis from having dual citizenship with Israel. This was one of the most irresponsible and needless statements in the draft. You will all be happy to know that this ?exception clause? has since been removed and now reads as follows:
Quote: 3. a. An Iraqi may not be deprived of his nationality nor exiled or deported unless it is proven in a trial that he provided false essential information that resulted in his being granted nationality.
b. It is forbidden to try a person without citizenship; this shall be regulated by law.
4. An Iraqi is allowed to bear more than one citizenship. An Iraqi who was stripped of his citizenship after February 8, 1968 for any reason is considered Iraqi and is entitled to regain [his citizenship].
It has to be remembered that the document from June 30 and the document now are drafts. They are models for the progress being made on a whole constitution. Thankfully, this suggests that progress is indeed being made. Other commenters in the thread noted that there were no solid guarantees for property rights. This has reassuringly been remedied! The other draft simply said, ?The Iraqi citizen has a complete and unconditional right to ownership in all parts of Iraq without limitation.? This new draft expands upon the concept and outlines rights with regards to eminent domain and one?s life:
Quote: b. Private ownership is protected. Nobody may be prevented from using his property except within the boundaries of law. Nobody may be deprived of something he owns except for purposes of public welfare in cases specified by law and in the manner stipulated therein and with the condition of just and prompt compensation.
c. The dignity of the individual must be honored and protected. All forms of bodily and psychological torture are forbidden. Those harmed have the right to demand compensation for the material and moral harm they suffered in accordance with law.
One of the things I liked best about the first draft were the legal protections and guarantee of due process similar to those we have in America. This new draft specifies these even further, to my delight.
Quote: 13. a. No one may be detained, held or searched, except by a decision from a competent judicial agency.
b. The privacy of houses is protected. It is not permitted to enter or search them except in accordance with law.
c. Abusive, harsh, and inhumane treatment is forbidden. Any evidence in a trial from any confession obtained by force, torture, or threat is not admissible for any reason.
d. Initial investigation papers are to be sent to the competent judge within 24 hours of the arrest of an accused.
16. a. The judiciary is independent. There is no power over the judiciary except the law.
b. An accused in innocent until proven guilty in a just and legal trial.
n. Doubt is interpreted in the interest of the accused.
There are many more under article sixteen, so check them out. You will recognize many provisions that provide for common protections such as double jeopordy, ex post facto, and ?Miranda? rights. These are all placed under judicial supervision, and as noted above, the judicial system must constitutionally be independent.
Another concern voiced in the comments was over their equivalent of our Second Amendment, which read in the previous draft as, ?Citizens are forbidden to posses, bear, buy, or sell weapons except with a permit issued in accordance with the law.? It still reads that way. We?ll have to see what happens with it, as th differences between the translation all the way to judicial interpretation may be different from how we interpret it.
A lot of the creepy stuff about the government having to intervene to uphold the morality and ?social justice? of society has been taken out. I also note that one reference to ?Islamic sharia? has been simply changed to ?Islam.? Another instance remains, however, and there still are a few strange concepts like such. More on that in the previous post, but we?re seeing a big tone down on such language.
Lastly, this new draft tones down quite a bit on the commitments of the government toward social welfare. There is still a clause for ?free health care? and the providing of education ?at all levels? and social security. The draft leaves it up to parliament to draft the law the various levels of government to figure out how this is going to happen, suggesting that the drafters realize a more limited capability to dish it out than previously thought.
Overall, progress is being made. It is important to emphasize, just as with the previous draft, that this is just a draft. None of it is set it stone, though identifying more controversial and unnecessary language early on helps us to set a precedent for marking progress. By this count, the framers are doing remarkably well especially since it was only three weeks ago that the first draft was leaked. They still have a few weeks until their work is completed, sent to the commission, integratd with the rest of the constitution, and voted on; so we can probably look forward to another release ahead of the final vote.
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