Personal Status Code 1959

Posted on | April 12, 2009

Law 188 of 1959 promulgated a Personal Status Code (published in the Official Gazette on 30 December 1959). Although the law was passed following the revolution of 14 July 1958, debate had previously raged for 12 years over the adoption of a Personal Status Code.
The law covers matters of marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.
It was amended on 18 March 1963 (to be applied retrospectively from 8 February 1963) by Law 11 of 1963 and also by Law 21 of 1978 and RCC Order 189 of 1980.
It applies to all Muslims, regardless of whether Sunni or Shia. The provisions of intestate succession are primarily based upon those of the Ja’fari (Ithna Ashari) Shia school.
Excellent analyses of the 1959 Code and the 1963 amendments are contained in Norman Anderson’s two articles in the International and Comparative Law Quarterly:
A Law of Personal Status for Iraq ICLQ 9 (Oct 1960) 542 and Changes in the Law of Personal Status in Iraq ICLQ 12 (July 1963).
In December 2003 the IGC passed Resolution 137 which provided that shari’a should apply to matters of personal status and that all laws violating that principle should be repealed. National and international protests by women’s groups urged the CPA administrator, Paul Bremer not to sign the resolution into law and eventually it was withdrawn by the IGC.