NCRI, September 11 – Professor Eric David, President of the Center for International Law at the “Université Libre de Bruxelles” raised his points on the Iraqi new constitution concerning refugees in that country and warned of the Iranian clerics meddling in its preparation. His letter to the Iraqi President and other competent authorities is as follows:
The drafting of a constitution of the new Iraq has given rise to much hope that once approved and finalized, this document will serve as a road map for the long-suffering people of your country to march towards democracy and prosperity. The whole world wishes your nation the very best along that path.
As a historical document, therefore the new constitution needs to be in complete concordance with international law and universally accepted norms of human rights. I write to express my profound concern over one clause in the draft constitution that in my opinion, would be at odds with provisions of international instruments on political refugees and asylum rights.
I refer to the third clause of Article 21 which states: “Political asylum shall not be granted to those accused of committing international or terror crimes or to anyone who has caused Iraq harm.”
While Iraq has a right not to grant political asylum to international criminals or convicted terrorists, the wording of the clause is such that it could leave the door open for manipulation against legitimate political refugees and asylum-seekers. Contrary to instruments such as the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees, the 1967 UN Declaration on Terrorism Asylum or the non-discrimination clause which can be found in most extradition treaties.
You are well aware of the Iranian regime’s persistent efforts over the past two years to use a variety of means to compel the Iraqi authorities to hand over members of the main Iranian opposition group, the people’s Mojahedin, to Iran. Recently, two members of the group were abducted in Baghdad and an attempt to kidnap seven others was thwarted. There have also been reports on abduction and murder of Iranian Kurdish refugees in Iraq by Tehran’s agents.
In such circumstances, the Iranian regime will do its utmost through its agents to manipulate the loose wording of the third clause of Article 21 to achieve its sinister aim of eliminating its opponents.
As Iraq goes through the challenges of democratization one of the key indicators for the world community will be the way the new Iraq state will treat political refugees and asylum seekers. It is therefore my firm opinion as a friend of the Iraqi people and their nascent democracy, that the aforementioned clause must be changed in a way that would bring it into conformity with the provisions of international human rights instruments mentioned here above and other relevant international covenants.
Such changes would preclude misinterpretation of the new constitution sought by the Iranian regime.
Iraq’s democratization must present a new model to the entire Middle East. If the road map to that model, namely the constitution, were to leave the door open for the religious dictatorship in Iran to take advantage of it, the process will not succeed.