Iraq moves to seal Saddam-era files

2012-09-26 12:01
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Baghdad - The terror of Saddam Hussein's secret police has lived on long after his fall through their millions of reports, which are still dragged up by Iraqi politicians and the media, often with damaging results.

But Saad Iskander, the head of Iraq's national archives, thinks the documents have been used for long enough, and is pushing legislation that would criminalise their release without the consent of the people they concern.

"Baath party officials, the secret organisations, the secret police, they all received and wrote millions and even billions of reports on ordinary people, party officials," Iskander said.

It was "an awful dictatorship that dominated all aspects of life, not only through terror but also through documentation and spying".

But unlike in Germany, where an agency was set up after reunification to process the documents of the former East Germany's Stasi secret police, Iraq saw its archives dispersed to the four winds after Saddam's overthrow by a 2003 US-led invasion.

The US Pentagon obtained 48 000 boxes of documents and the Central Intelligence Agency acquired millions of papers, as did Iraqi political parties, individuals and the media, Iskander said.

Media dissuaded

Almost 10 years after Saddam's fall, the documents are still posing problems.

"Some documents published in the press named people who were executed, and when, and where," Iskander said. "They didn't conceal the names of the victims."

"We don't have the right to publish the names of the victims and of those who committed the crimes," he said. "This is up to them."

Iskander also condemned the actions of some political parties, which have threatened to release documents allegedly showing candidates from opposing parties were members of Saddam's now-banned Baath party.

"We have dissuaded some media from using the archives, but it is impossible to put pressure on the political parties... unless we have a law that allows it," he said.

So Iskander has prepared and submitted a draft law that, if adopted by parliament, would criminalise the publication of Saddam-era documents without the consent of those concerned.

Penalties

"This law will organise the level of access to information. Some information will be disclosed to the prime minister, some to the judges. But not everybody will have access to all information," he said.

"This wealth of information, those documents, are a weapon. It can be used and abused."

Iskander said the draft law provides for penalties including fines and prison sentences for those who release documents without authorisation, although he declined to reveal the details as the draft was still under review.

When asked by AFP about the issue, Iraqi government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh said the government would support such a law.

Iskander's proposal is also viewed kindly within the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which saw some of its candidates face bans in the run-up to 2010 parliamentary polls over allegations of Baathist ties.

But Haidar al-Mullah, a leading Iraqiya MP, criticised the government for the lengthy "de-Baathification" process and termed the need for a law such as that proposed by Iskander "a failure of the government".

Freedom of the press

De-Baathification "was for a specific period and should be ended. It is not logical that after 10 years we are still in the cycle of de-Baathification", Mullah said.

And while some support Iskander's initiative, others warn that the proposed new law could place limits on freedom of the press.

"How can we remain silent when we see a document about former Baath party members which carries information about a genocide?" asked Ziad al-Ajili, the head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, an Iraqi watchdog.

"Remaining silent is a crime. The crime is not to publish these documents," Ajili said.

Read more on:    saddam hussein  |  iraq
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.