A member of the integrity committee in the Iraqi parliament said that there is a move underway to get rid of one of the main barriers to corruption inquiries. Article 136B of the Iraqi Criminal Code allows ministers to stop investigations of personnel within their own ministry. A recent example of the use of 136B was when former Interior Minister Jawad Bolani used it to stop his own inspector general from looking into the general in charge of the ministry’s explosives department who was suspected of buying fake bomb detectors. In the first half of 2010 the article was invoked 95 times in cases worth a total of $920,000. That surpassed the 54 times it was used in all of 2009.
This was just the latest example of anti-corruption officials trying to get rid of 136B. Since 2003, the article was repealed twice, and then brought back. This latest example may not be motivated by altruistic motivations. One of the main demands of the protests that have sprung up around the country involves fighting corruption, which is rampant at all levels of the Iraqi government. Transparency International has ranked Iraq the fourth most corrupt country in the world in 2010 for the second year in a row. The integrity committee may just be trying to appease the demonstrators. The bill amending the criminal code, which wound eliminate 136B not only has to be passed, but the government than has to rigorously investigate and prosecute those guilty of graft, taking bribes, etc. Baghdad has shown no commitment to this cause since 2005 when it got its autonomy back from the Americans. If the government began reversing course and taking this problem more seriously that would be a real story in Iraq rather than just an attempt to get rid of one barrier to investigations.
Brosk, Raman, “Plan to abolish immunity from corruption charges for state officials,” AK News, 3/15/11
Commission of Integrity, “CoI Key achievements and indicators from January 1, 2010 To June 30, 2010,” 7/28/10
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/10