The authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan have continued to use arbitrary and discriminatory practices against prisoners of conscience and their lawyers, upon their arrest, during their trials, and during their detention, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said Wednesday in a statement expressing deep concern.
The Kurdish authorities seem to ignore all calls to stop violations of individuals’ rights and improve the human rights situation in the region. They maintain their discriminatory and illegal practices, such as brutal arrests, spiteful accusations based on “information from a secret informant”, forcing individuals to confess to crimes they did not commit, and delaying their appearance before the courts for long periods.
Berivan Ayoub, 32 years old and a mother of five children, was released last May after detention of about 19 months for participating in a peaceful demonstration in October 2020. “I spent 15 days in solitary confinement. I was denied seeing my five children while in detention, and I was not brought before a judge until after one and a half years,” she said in a testimony carried to Euro-Med Monitor by a member of her defense team Bashdar Hassan.
“I suffered major health and social problems due to the arrest. My husband left me, and my health seriously deteriorated, as I went on seven hunger strikes in protest of not being brought to court,” she said.
What is more, not only activists were abused, but their lawyers as well. Activists’ lawyers were forced to go through unnecessary procedures, as they stepped in to defend activists and prisoners of conscience, apparently to obstruct and influence the defense process.
Bashdar Hassan told Euro-Med Monitor: “We are not able to obtain an agency from the activists during the investigation, unlike other defendants, except on the trial day. We are also denied visiting the detained activists and reviewing papers on their cases, which greatly hinders our work.”
He added, “The Internal Security Forces (Asayish) treat us terribly, as we try to follow up on the cases of detained activists and journalists in particular. This made lawyers reluctant to defend them. We submitted several complaints to the High Commission for Human Right against the Asayish’s behavior in undermining fair trial standards, but these complaints remained without an answer.”