BAGHDAD, 6 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Iraqi intellectuals and academics called for a constitution based on human rights, democracy and free speech at a conference held in the capital, Baghdad, last week.
The conference was organised by the National League of Iraqi Intellectuals and Academics (NLIIA) an NGO formed in May 2003.
Participants called for establishment of a democratic, multi-party, federal country that preserves the unity of the nation, as well as its Arabic and Islamic identity.
"We should guarantee that all these topics are addressed when the constitution is written. Iraqi officials who are responsible for the constitution drafting should also respect human rights, according to international laws," chairman of the conference, Srood Najeeb, said.
Women's rights were also highlighted during the conference.
"It's time for women in the country to be respected and guaranteed the same opportunities as men. Our rights should be well explained in the new constitution especially maternity and work rights," Huda al-Naaymy, of the department of human rights studies at Baghdad University, said.
Mahmoud al-Jaboury, spokesperson for the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR), spoke about constitutional elections and how the input of the ministry would help to guarantee that human rights were acknowledged and respected in the drafting of the constitution.
The event ended with a call to action by Hani al-Hadethy, head of the NLIIA, who recalled how little attention was paid to human rights under Saddam Hussein.
"This is a chance for all Iraqis to have their rights explained. The constitution-drafting process should be well planned and include the participation of all groups in the country, even if they are a minority in Iraq," al-Hadethy said.
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