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 Metro centre condemns Barzani's KDP lawsuit against Kurdish press



Metro centre condemns Barzani's KDP lawsuit against Kurdish press  3.9.2010  

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September 3, 2010

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The IWPR’s Metro Centre for the defense of journalists’ rights released a statement of protest against the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)'s immense compensation claims for slander filed against three Kurdish periodicals.

A leader in the party insisted that the claims are in accordance with the scope of the defamation the party suffered from the articles printed by the periodicals.

The protest statement issued on Thursday stated that the claims by KDP politburo secretary against the three Kurdish publications Hawlati, Rozhnama, and Awena are in breach of Kurdistan’s journalistic laws.

In its 214 issue on March 9, 2010, the daily newspaper Awena published two articles under the titles " Goran, Kurdistan Islamic Group, and Kurdistan Islamic Union:                     

File photo.
In Erbil the elections were not spared from frauds", and "President, you spoilt it".

In response to the daily’s alleged slander, the KDP politburo's secretary, Fadhil Mirani brought a claim against the daily's chief editor Shuwan Mohammed on Thursday and requested him reimburse the lawyers fees as well as paying $ 425 thousand in damages as compensation.

Recently Mirani filed two other cases against the Hawlati and Rozhanama periodicals, demanding of the former $425 thousand and of the latter $1 billion. A verdict hasn’t been reached in either case so far.

The Committee to Protect Journalists CPJ calls on KDP led by Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, to drop a defamation complaint against the Kurdish opposition weekly, Rozhnama.

The statement further described the claims as "invalid and a clear abuse of the principles and law of journalism" because the KDP has filed the claims after the lapse of the three month time limit for raising a lawsuit against a journalist.

Responding to the statement, Mohammed Mala Qadir, a member of KDP's politburo pointed the finger at the periodicals, saying "they bother us a lot,
www.ekurd.neteven though the KDP is too strong to shake as a result of their baseless allegations."

"Our claims are legal and it is ordinary for the ones who feel their rights have been violated to seek trial against the offenders," Mala stated "we believe we have adopted the right approach."

Commenting on the sum of the compensation asked by KDP's politburo secretary, Qadir said "the figures are in accordance with the trouble they caused us, if they decrease their nuisance, we also will decrease the amount."

Representing the Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedom Observatory (JFO) foundation, the Metro Centre was founded in Aug. 2009 in Kurdistan. It is an independent organization for defending the rights of journalists.

Speaking to AKnews, Rahman Qharib, the coordinator of the centre described the complaints by the KDP politburo as "an attempt by those in authority to limit the freedom of speech".

The KDP is one of the two dominating parties in the Kurdistan Region, deeply rooted since Aug. 16, 1946.

The IWPR’s Metro Centre was launched in August 2008, the centre has campaigned on media rights issues; documented scores of attacks on journalists; assisted those who have been detained; and issued dozens of statements that are widely cited in the local press.
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