The KRG re­sponds to a re­port by the US State Depart­ment

The an­nual United States Depart­ment of State re­port on hu­man rights around the world de­votes a few para­graphs in its dis­cus­sion of hu­man rights in Iraq to Kur­dis­tan.

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Ni­var Mah­mood

Dr. Din­dar Zibari, head of the com­mit­tee charged with fol­low­ing up in­ter­na­tional re­ports in the KRG, re­sponds to this re­port about hu­man rights in the re­gion. The re­port fo­cuses on the con­di­tions fac­ing jour­nal­ists in the re­gion and pris­on­ers in state pris­ons, es­pe­cially those from eth­nic and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties. In re­sponse, Zibari con­firmed that the KRG Par­lia­ment had passed a jour­nal­ism law whose Ar­ti­cle 35 is specif­i­cally about jour­nal­ism and jour­nal­ists in the re­gion. Com­par­ing the vi­o­la­tions from 2012 and 2013, we see that vi­o­la­tions against jour­nal­ists have de­creased: while there were 63 in 2012, there were just 47 in 2013. In ad­di­tion, the KRG Min­istry of the In­te­rior and jour­nal­ists syn­di­cate have col­lab­o­rated in ap­point­ing a fol­low-up com­mit­tee con­cerned with vi­o­la­tions against jour­nal­ists.

Dr. Zibari also men­tions that there are cases where jour­nal­ists do not ap­peal when their rights are vi­o­lated and this ap­pears to have hap­pened af­ter govern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions. There are also times where cit­i­zens ap­peal against jour­nal­ist who have over­stepped the mark. Fur­ther­more, ac­cord­ing to the direc­torate of gen­eral se­cu­rity, no jour­nal­ist or writer has been ar­rested by se­cu­rity forces with­out a court or­der.

Ac­cord­ing to the KRG Min­istry of Cul­ture, there are about 800 me­dia agencies in the re­gion; ac­cord­ing to the jour­nal­ists syn­di­cate, there are about 7000 jour­nal­ists in the union. This num­ber in it­self proves that there is an open and un­re­stricted field for the me­dia and free­dom to ex­press one­self in the Re­gion. How­ever, there has been times when jour­nal­ists have ig­nored the prin­ci­ples and laws of the press and have be­come a dan­ger for the safety and se­cu­rity of Kur­dis­tan.

An­other point is demon­stra­tions in the Re­gion. Ar­ti­cle 11 of the 2010 pub­lic or­der deals specif­i­cally with demon­stra­tions, stat­ing the be­hav­ior re­quired from se­cu­rity forces. Rules 6 and 7 pre­vent po­lice and se­cu­rity forces from us­ing force against pro­tes­tors and to vi­o­late any of their rights; any vi­o­la­tions of these re­quire­ments will be pun­ished. Turn­ing to the tor­ture of pris­on­ers in the Re­gion’s pris­ons, Dr. Zibari states that in ac­cor­dance with Ar­ti­cle 111 of the 1969 Iraqi leg­is­la­tion, which is still in force, the tor­ture of pris­on­ers is for­bid­den and con­sid­ered a crime. If there have been vi­o­la­tions, it has been in a per­sonal con­text and those re­spon­si­ble have been pun­ished. He also said that if any­one is ar­rested in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, the judge has to de­cide whether to charge or re­lease them within 24 hours. There are sit­u­a­tions in which an ar­rested per­son whose life is in dan­ger may be keep in prison for longer.

The KRG Min­istry of the In­te­rior pre­vi­ously pro­vided all these de­tails with ev­i­dence to the US Sec­re­tary of State, and Dr. Zibari be­lieves that the re­port should have in­cluded spe­cific ex­am­ples of vi­o­la­tions if they had oc­curred. He also men­tioned that the UN Spe­cial En­voy to Iraq stated in his lat­est re­port on hu­man rights in Iraq that he had vis­ited 53 pris­ons in the Kur­dis­tan re­gion and seen around 4,000 pris­on­ers, men, women and chil­dren. This alone demon­strates that the doors of the Re­gion>s pris­ons are open for in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors.

Talk­ing about the de­lays in reach­ing court ver­dicts in the Re­gion, Dr. Zibari an­nounced that the KRG has added more at­tor­ney gen­er­als and judges, and that the tri­bunal hired 40 gen­eral at­tor­neys for the re­gion in March, 2013 with more judges in or­der for this prob­lem to be solved and to speed up the ju­di­cial process. More­over, se­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tions in the re­gion have all been put un­der the com­mand of the Kur­dish In­tel­li­gence agency and In­for- ma­tion agency un­der spe­cial leg­is­la­tion.

Turn­ing to the eth­nic and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties of Kur­dis­tan and its dis­puted ar­eas, Dr. Zibari states that in the re­gion eth­nic co­he­sion and free­dom for all races in all as­pects of life is avail­able and there are no threats or pres­sure of any kind on mi­nori­ties. In con­trast, The Re­gion pro­vides a safe haven for all the mi­nori­ties of Iraq and for Arab res­i­dents from south­ern and mid Iraq. In ad­di­tion, due to the un­safe ar­eas of Iraq be­cause of ter­ror­ism and bomb­ings out­side the re­gion, thou­sands of Arab res­i­dents head to all three gov­ern orates of Kur­dis­tan re­gion for shel­ter and to have se­cure lives. An­other way that other eth­nic and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties con­trib­ute to the de­ci­sion mak­ings of po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses and hav­ing high po­si­tions in the KRG, they also have the ad­van­tage of work­ing in ed­u­ca­tion and more fea­tures of the so­ci­ety. There are 44 schools in Ara­bic, Turk­men and Assyr­ian lan­guage only in Er­bil city and in Ham­di­ana, Bar­ta­laf, Tek­lif, Qaraqosh and Alqosh there is 56 schools in the Assyr­ian lan­guage. Like­wise in the Do­huk city there is a spe­cial panel in the gen­eral direc­torate of ed­u­ca­tion min­istry in Do­huk that is re­spon­si­ble for stud­ies of the Yazidizm in the Do­huk and Mo­sul prov­inces. No mi­nor­ity has been pres­sured or forced to study only in the Kur­dish lan­guage and also po­lit­i­cal wise no mi­nor has been ar­rested due to their race. The mi­nor­ity groups are not distin­guished in any way than the Kurds, they prac­tice their reli­gions just like the Kurds do and the court laws ap­ply to them no dif­fer­ently than the Kurds.

Fi­nally, the head of fol­low up com­mit­tee of in­ter­na­tional re­ports in the KRG af­firmed that the com­mit­tee will be an­swer­ing the USA>s depart­ment of state an­nual re­port in a more de­tailed for­mat in the near fu­ture.

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