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New document: Press Law for the Jazirah Canton

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On December 19, 2015, the legislative council for the Jazirah Canton, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), passed a press law. The law professes to want to safeguard the freedom and independence of the press. However, in reality it limits these freedoms considerably. In democratic societies the press is in principle free. This means, anyone can operate a paper, magazine, radio and television station as well as online publications. Only then, if in the framework of reporting the prevailing law is violated, will independent courts take action. However, the PYD’s press law intends to make all forms of media be registered and all journalists must be accredited before taking up work. The criteria for a media license (also subject to charge) and the accreditation process for journalists remain unclear. In addition, there is a press council whose job it is to comprehensively monitor media reporting to detect violations of the law. The press council is, in such cases, authorized to impose fines and revoke publishing and broadcasting licenses, temporarily or permanently. The entire law can be characterized as showing a fundamental distrust of free press. Moreover it is clear, that the registration processes outlined and the fees introduced serve the goal of boosting PYD revenue. Consequently, the fines imposed on international media are significantly higher than those on local Syrian media.

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