HRW: Kurdish Authorities Used Vague Laws to Target Critics for Expressing Opposed Views

Reports 11:10 AM - 2024-05-16


Kurdistan Human Rights

Another foreign report provides a highly unfavourable picture of the state of freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region in 2023, contributing to the growing number of international reports highlighting the dire human rights situation in the Kurdistan Region.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), a number of vaguely worded legislation have been employed to specifically target and suppress journalists, activists, and opposing politicians.


Freedom of expression in Iraq and Kurdistan is criticised

The current annual report by Human Rights Watch provides a critical assessment of freedom of expression in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. This report will be the third international publication to highlight the deterioration of press freedom, human rights, and overall freedom in the Region. Prior to this, the US State Department and Amnesty International released yearly reports stating that freedom in the Kurdistan Region was not considered to be secure.

The report pointed out: "In the KRI, Kurdish authorities in 2022 used vaguely worded laws to target critics for expressing criticism and opinions they object to. In August, Kurdish authorities arrested dozens of journalists and activists in advance of planned protests called for by KRG critics."

The 2023 press freedom report by Human Rights Watch treats "Iraq and the Kurdistan Region" equally and without bias. 


KRG authorities disregard international laws

Karwan Anwar, Secretary of the Sulaymaniyah Branch of the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate, told PUKMEDIA: "International investigations have demonstrated that the capitals of Baghdad and Erbil exhibit the highest incidence of infringements upon journalists. The criticism of Erbil relates to transgressions against journalists perpetrated by the security forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the article also discusses the measures taken to deter protests in Erbil."

He also said: "The apprehension of journalists and activists in Badinan has brought disgrace upon the Kurdistan Region."

Ayhan Saeed, a spokesman for the detainees in Badinan, previously told PUKMEDIA that the violation of journalist and activist Sherwan Sherwani's rights under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shows that the KRG's authorities disobey international law and want the media to act according to their wishes.

"We advocate for a necessary shift in the prevailing police mindset in the Kurdistan Region, in response to concerns expressed by both the local public and the international community. It is imperative to rectify the unfavourable circumstances that have damaged the Region's reputation," he added. 



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