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'Gravely concerned’ about power authorities have over judiciary: : Watchdog

  2021-06-29  | 
 Zhyan News Network
A combined photo of the logo of Christian Peacemaking Team (CPT) and the convicted journalists and activists- Graphik by Zhyan News Network
 Zhyan News Network


SULAIMANI - Christian Peacemaking Team in Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT-IK) said that it is concerned with interferences in court rulings by the authorities in the Kurdistan Region following sentences upheld and issued for seven detained journalists and activists in the past few months. 

“CPT-IK is gravely concerned about the power that Iraqi Kurdistan political entities exercise over courts to punish journalists and civil society activists for exercising their right to freedom of expression,” the watchdog in a three-page report. 

The watchdog alleged that the detainees were denied rights, such as meeting families, having judges in interrogations, and arrests made without warrants. 

On June 27, the Court of Cassation in Erbil said that it denied an appeal filed by the defense team of five detained journalists and civil rights activists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Eyaz Karam, Shivan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa, who were sentenced in February to six years in prison over controversial charges amounting to undermining the stability, security and integrity of the Region. 

On June 22, a criminal court in Duhok sentenced Omed Baroshki, another journalist, to twelve months in prison and payment of a fine for three charges, but he is expected to face more charges in a July 29 trial. 

In February, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said ahead of the February trial for the five: “They were neither journalists nor civil rights activists... they were spies of foreign governments and saboteurs.”

Barzani’s statement was viewed as an intervention and prejudgment before the court tried and handed down sentenced to the five. 

On June 26, the mother of detained journalist and cameraman Qaraman Shukri, another detained journalists, told Zhyan News Network that her son told her two days before that he had secretly been sentenced to seven years in prison by a court in Duhok.

The Kurdistan Region has come under fire by the human rights organizations such as (CPJ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the foreign missions in Erbil and Baghdad for the court trials and decisions.

Between March 2020 and April 2021, KDP-affiliated security forces cracked down on anti-government protests in Duhok and apprehended over 100 individuals in Duhok governorate alone, and specifically in the Badinan area, northwest of the governorate, Amnesty International reported on June 15.

Metro Center for Journalists' Rights and Advocacy documented nearly 400 violations committed against journalists and media outlets in the Kurdistan Region in 2020.

(Zhyan English)