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Trial of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq resumes

Status: 
Case Dismissed
About the situation

On 15 November 2020, the Karada Court of First Instance in Baghdad dismissed the dissolution case against the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), and ordered the Council of Ministers to pay for all the expenses of the trial.

On 17 September 2020, the third hearing session of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq took place at the Karada Court of First Instance in Baghdad.

On 17 September 2020, the third hearing in the trial of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq is scheduled to take place at the Karada Court of First Instance in Baghdad. The organisation is facing dissolution on allegations that the establishment of some of its shelters violate Iraq’s ‘Law on Non-Governmental Organisations’.

About the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

 The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI)The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) is a human rights organisation that works on empowering and protecting women and LGBTI persons who face violence or find themselves in situations of risk. It operates shelters in a number of Iraqi cities for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence as well as vulnerable minorities.

 

24 November 2020
Case against OWFI is dismissed

On 15 November 2020, the Karada Court of First Instance in Baghdad dismissed the dissolution case against the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), and ordered the Council of Ministers to pay for all the expenses of the trial. On 9 January 2020, the former Iraqi Council of Ministers submitted a request to the court to withdraw government authorisation for OWFI and dissolve the organisation.

22 September 2020
Third hearing of OWFI takes place

On 17 September 2020, the third hearing session of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq took place at the Karada Court of First Instance in Baghdad. The legal representative of the Council of Ministers requested the court to summon representatives from several Government ministries, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, to answer questions on the organisation’s work, and allegations that they violated the Iraqi Law on Non-Governmental Organisations.

The next hearing session is scheduled to be held on 1 October 2020.

15 September 2020
Trial of ‘Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq’ resumes

On 17 September 2020, the third hearing in the trial of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq is scheduled to take place at the Karada Court of First Instance in Baghdad. The organisation is facing dissolution on allegations that the establishment of some of its shelters violate Iraq’s ‘Law on Non-Governmental Organisations’.

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The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) is a human rights organisation that works on empowering and protecting women and LGBTI persons who face violence or find themselves in situations of risk. It operates shelters in a number of Iraqi cities for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence as well as vulnerable minorities.

After attending initial hearings on 22 January and 2 March 2020, lawyers for OWFI have been summonsed to the third public hearing on the request to ban the organisation. On 9 January 2020, the legal representative of the former Secretary General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers submitted a request to the Karada Court of First Instance to withdraw Government authorisation for OWFI and dissolve the organisation. It alleged that the OWFI violated the ‘Law on Non-Governmental Organisations’ (Law No. 12 of 2010). The prosecution alleges that some of the shelters for women established by the organisation were set up without Government authorisation. It also faces accusations of engaging in political activities following the participation of some of its members in peaceful demonstrations that have been taking place in Baghdad since October 2019.

Human rights defenders working for the organisation have been increasingly harassed in recent months. Since the beginning of the October protests, several of them have received messages by phone and on social media with serious threats, including that of abduction or killing, for carrying out their human rights activities.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned by the judicial harassment and potential closure of OWFI as well as the serious threats received by its members. Front Line Defenders believes that the organisation is being targetted solely for its work defending the rights of vulnerable groups in Iraq.