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
NEXT ON NEWS24X

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

 
 

'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! 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

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...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.