UHD lecturer plays a key role in abolishing a government regulation for digital media


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Statement 1 Year 2023 of the Ministry of Culture and Youth of the Kurdistan Regional Government created outrage among intellectuals in Kurdistan for the restrictions it would impose on digital media. Many described it as too limiting for the freedom of expression and the power of media to expose corruption. The regulation was issued to ‘organise’ digital media in Kurdistan.

The Minister of Culture and Youth decided on 15 February 2024 to abolish Statement 1 Year 2023 which was published in Kurdistan Official Gazette, No. 305, on 22 May 2023 and revive an older regulation (Regulation 1 Year 2014) for the organisation of digital media activities.

Among the key intellectuals who stood up against the new regulation was Prof. Dr Saman Fawzi, a senior lecturer at the Department of Law at the University of Human Development (UHD). Dr Fawzi is a widely recognised expert in media law. Right after the 2023 regulation, he launched a campaign – spoke to the media, participated in various panels and seminars…etc – to make the government go back on its decision.

Some of the critiques directed at the regulation by Dr Fawzi: (1) any such regulation must be issued by the Parliament, which would then be called law, not a government agency, (2) the law must be drafted and proposed by a special and neutral committee, (3) the 2023 regulation defines terms such as defamation and nuisance very vaguely, and this is problematic especially when lawsuits are initiated, (4) the fees of obtaining a licence for digital media are very high, and this means limitation on media activities, (5) it gives power to the government agencies to control digital media outlets, (6) it gives power to the government to close down digital media easily, (7) it prevents digital media from publishing any government documents without permission, this in effect means that no document revealing corruption can be published, and (8) the regulation does not tackle the issue of unidentified digital media; shadowy Facebook pages, for example. For these reasons and others, Dr Fawzi recommended the rejection and abolition of the new regulation. And it happened.

The abolishment of the regulation was hailed by Kurdish intellectuals, civil society organisations and the public. 

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