UNAMI accuses the KRG of having “secret jails” in Kurdistan Region; KRG denies the charge
Report welcomes KRG attempts to “improve prison situations,” but claims it violates detainees’ rights at the same time.
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Coordinator to the United Nations, Dindar Zebari, denied a UN report claiming presence of secret jails in the provinces under control of the KRG. He also defended the KRG’s attempts to improve women’s and human rights.
“There is no secret jail in Kurdistan,” Zebari said at a news conference on Tuesday, following a report published by the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) about many aspects concerning human rights in Iraq and Kurdistan Region. The report, published on December 27, covered research carried out by UNAMI teams during the first six months of 2009. Two reports of this sort are published yearly in Iraq.
“There are only six detainees accused of terror without charges in the region,” Zebari said, adding that there are “many” such cases. He also criticized other items of the report, particularly those about violence against women, detainees, treatment of prisoners, existence of secret jails, and the journalism situation.
“The KRG has precisely worked on every one of those cases. This is clear to everyone,” said Zebari. He criticized some of the information in the report, which he said lacks exact dates, locations, and details, and he said some issues have been generalized. “The KRG has opened four special directorates to confront violence against women.”
He also called on the UN to expand their team currently working in the region to prepare future reports and research.
The report records positively the KRG’s attempts to improve prison situations, but it also quotes violations throughout their 10 interviews with detainees in difference places in Erbil, Duhok, and Suleimaniya.
“Serious violations of the rights of detainees by KRG authorities have been documented,” reads the report, which describes the violations as beatings, torture, forced confessions, and lack of medical attention. “Ill-treatment and abuse are often reported to be committed while detainees are blindfolded.”
UNAMI says it “welcomes KRG authorities’ efforts to modernize and renovate buildings used as prisons or detention facilities, which have led to clear improvements in some locations.” It also refers to the creation of a governmental sub-committee to monitor the human-rights observance in the detention facilities of the KRG security forces, Asaish.
The directorate of observation on violence against women, an agency of the KRG Ministry of Interior Affairs, published a statement noting inaccuracy in a number of cases of violence against women in the region. The report says 122 such cases were recorded from January 1 to the end of June 2009. The Directorate corrected the figures, saying it was 103 cases. The cases include crimes of so-called “honor-killing,” female self-immolation, homicide, attempted murder, and other ill-treatment of women.
The Directorate in its statement criticized the local Kurdish media for wrongly translating an item in the report relevant to measures about honor-killing. “Some media reported that the UNAMI report records that honor-killing in Kurdistan Region pass without being charges,” read the statement. On this, the UNAMI report notes, “Articles 128 and 130 of the Iraqi (Federal) Penal Code are no longer applicable in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. These were suppressed by an act of the Parliament of Kurdistan in 2002. Thus, the KRG no longer considers honor killing a mitigating circumstance.”