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UN urges KRG to protect right to freedom of expression

  2021-05-12  | 
 Zhyan News Network
A flag is pictured outside the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 7, 2019. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – The United Nations on Wednesday (March 12) raised concerns over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) widespread measures to erode independent opinion and freedom of expression in the Region.

The KRG is currently facing a wide range of serious criticisms from foreign diplomat missions, particularly after jailing five Duhok journalists and activists after “unjust” court ruling over charges of “spy.”

The space for critical voices and civil society has been under threat from March 2020 to April 2021, UN Human Rights Office and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a report.

“Freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has been increasingly curtailed over the past year,” it added. “Critics of public authorities have risked not only intimidation, restrictions on their movements and arbitrary arrests, but some were also charged with defamation, while others, more recently, were prosecuted under national security laws.”

There is lack of compliance with the with international human rights standards and relevant legal procedures, it added.

“The key findings of this report are of serious concern, particularly the behaviour of the security apparatus, the selective application of laws and the lack of compliance with relevant legal procedures and international human rights standards.”

There has been a surge in concerns about the condition of the state of freedom of the press and expression in the Kurdistan Region spoken up by local and international watchdogs and foreign missions. 

The controversial case of three journalists and two activists sentenced in February to six years in prison over controversial charges and its approval by the appellate court has crystallized the concerns.

(Zhyan English)