Fair trial standards not respected against 5 Duhok detainees: EU
A photos shows the logo of EU Delegation in Iraq and five detained journalists and civil rights activists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Eyaz Karam, Shivan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa. Graphic/Zhyan News Network
Zhyan News Network
SULAIMANI – Courts in the Kurdistan Region have not respected basic fair trial standards during the hearings on charges against five Duhok journalists and activists, said the EU Delegation to Iraq on Wednesday (June 30).
The EU Delegation
encouranged the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) not to use the criminal law “as a tool to limit freedom of expression,” saying “freedom of expression, media freedom, as well as an independent judiciary, are essential components of democracy.”
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.
“The European Union and the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States in Iraq encourage the Kurdistan Regional authorities to consider the key recommendations contained in the UNAMI/OHCHR report, especially those related to harassment, intimidation and reprisals against journalists, human rights defenders and activists,” the EU Delegation to Iraq said.
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.
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.