The United States, Canada, and the European Union welcome a report on freedom of expression in Kurdistan

Representatives of the United States, Canada, the European Union and member states in Erbil welcome a UNAMI report on the state of freedom of expression and fair trial in the Kurdistan Region, published at the end of last month.

 

Report about Freedom of Expression and Media Work in the Kurdistan Region

On Wednesday, 22-12-2021, UNAMI and the OFFICE of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report in the Kurdistan Region relating to freedom of expression and media work.

“Some of the defendants told the court that they had been confessed to torture; the trial judge did not listen to them and without any further investigation, the immunity to end torture, access to the defense lawyer, the video investigation and the processes of the torture report and inappropriate treatment were not respected,” the report said.

“Representatives of the United States, Canada, the European Union and member states of the Union in Erbil welcome the report published by the UNITED NATIONS Envoy for Iraqi Cooperation (UNAMI) on December 22, 2021 on the state of freedom of expression and fair trial in the Kurdistan Region,” the US Consulate in Erbil said in a statement.

 

KRG criticism

“For issues related to media freedom and issues such as legislation, UNAMI’s report should have included a more detailed reflection of the situation in the Kurdistan Region and its legal dimensions,” Dindar Zebari, coordinator of international recommendations, told ‘The Event Media network’ on Thursday, 23-12-2021, in response to the 21-page report.

“The KRG is committed to making changes where necessary,” he said. “The KRG has invited UNAMI, the High Commissioner’s Office and other international parties to further develop institutions, and the government has consulted with advocacy organisations to address concerns about freedom and media rights; at the same time, international counterparts and foreign envoys are on the line for judicial training.”

“We note the statements of the KRG’s international recommendation coordinator on the report and are pleased to work together to improve the human rights situation in the Kurdistan Region in 2022,” the European Union said in a statement issued by representatives of the United States, Canada.

Regarding the report, Dindar Zebari said, “The recommendations of UNAMI’s report are taken into consideration and we are working with our colleagues to embody them as necessary; UNAMI has visited the reform units and visited these units 14 times in the first five months of this year and has met 60 detainees.”

“The KRG embodies important democratic values in managing KRG affairs,” said the KRG’s international recommendation coordinator. “The report discusses freedom of expression, while there have been incidents of violence, destruction of public property, private property and chaos,” he said.

“Some of unami’s comments and the commissioner’s office are focused on legal affairs; the KRG reaffirms that the courts are independent and that the executive agencies only implement the court’s decisions,” said Dindar Zebari, referring to the report’s note on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s courts.

 

A collage of the journalists and activists that were arrested in the Kurdistan Region in 2020-2021.

 

Bahdinan trials

The joint report by UNAMI and the OFFICE of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is specific to the trial procedures for some of Bahdinan’s 2021 convicts, criticizes the trial style, saying that the reports and information they have received about the trials are of concern.

The report also criticized prosecutors for failing to fully define acts committed by criminals in the trial process, but that prosecutors had filed several public charges at court hearings, failing to identify and prove any specific action for the accused to support their charges.

At the same time, he argues that the evidence presented at the court hearings is incompatible with international human rights standards, and that those who were secret informants were not present at any court hearing to confirm their statements; however, he says, many The accused and witnesses have criticized their statements, which were read on the files of the cases, or rejected statements they had made with them during the investigation or claimed that they were not accurate. They’re the ones.

Unami and the OFFICE of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in their report also criticized the fact that the guarantee of detention was not fully respected, and that the defendants had been arrested before their trial in a situation that was inappropriate with the low level of international standards for dealing with detainees.

 

Article 222

Unami and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also criticized article 222 of iraq’s penal code, which was previously suspended by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s authorities to accuse some of the accused of “influencing the affairs of public authorities” by order of interim coalition No. 19 on July 9, 2003, because it “unjustly restricts the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.

 

Link to report UNAMI:

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/IQ/UNAMI_Report_Freedom_Expression_EN.pdf

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