Kurdish newspaper editor gets a month in prison for "defaming" legal system
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||10 November 2008|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Kurdish newspaper editor gets a month in prison for "defaming" legal system, 10 November 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49193c151e.html [accessed 19 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Shawan Dawodi, the editor of the weekly Hawal, who was sentenced to a month in prison and a fine by a court in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah on 4 November over a series of articles four years ago criticising judicial reform in Iraqi Kurdistan.
"There are no legal grounds for this arbitrary sentence as it is based on a law that has been superseded," Reporters Without Borders said. "The judges ignored the new press law adopted in September, which eliminates prison sentences for press offences. We therefore call for Dawodi to be released and for his conviction to be quashed."
Convicted under article 433 of the 1969 criminal code, Dawodi was jailed the same day that the sentence was issued and is currently being held in a "social rehabilitation" centre 15 km west of Sulaymaniyah.
The case dates back to 2004, when a senior judicial official accused him of "aggression against a representative of the state" as a result of a series of articles he wrote about Kurdistan's judicial system. After several hearings were postponed, the judges finally changed the charge to defamation.Chawan Daoudi
Dawodi, who is allowed to take calls in his cell, told Reporters Without Borders by telephone that he regarded his sentence as a warning to any journalist who might want to criticise the judicial system. "I just ask the judges to apply the law that is in force," he said. "Even if the article of the 1969 law were still in force, I would not deserve to be in prison."
Announcing that he has filed an appeal, Dawodi added: "It is my duty as a journalist to criticise the shortcomings of our judicial system."
A Kurdish language newspaper created in 2001, Hawal is distributed in Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk.