Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council ordered courts on May 10 to release all protesters jailed since anti–government demonstrations erupted last October. The Council cited Article 38 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to protest so long as demonstrations do not involve acts “contrary to the law.” The order comes days after new Prime Minister Mustafa al–Kadhimi addressed the nation, promising to “hold to account all those who shed Iraqi blood” during months of political unrest, and urging parliament to reform the electoral laws. Al–Kadhimi’s address spurred a renewed wave of nationwide protests, demanding immediate government action on political reform.
“While releasing the detainees is good, these gestures and any other cosmetic changes are not going to fool the protesters nor quell the protests,” Iraqi novelist Sinan Antoon told reporters. “The protests are against decades of corruption and criminality and against a political class beholden to foreign influence, and al-Kadhimi is an insider.”
Though protesters remain skeptical of al–Kadhimi’s motives, the anti–corruption movement forges ahead. Protesters remain largely undeterred by police brutality and the looming threat of the COVID–19 pandemic.
From Jurist, May 13. Used with permission.
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