US report on Kurdistan Region human rights condition ‘untransparent, unrealistic’, says KRG advocacy office

“The report has assessed the current state of affairs in the Kurdistan Region in a very untransparent, unrealistic and incorrect manner."
The logo of Kurdistan Regional Government (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
The logo of Kurdistan Regional Government (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United States’ annual report on human rights, security forces, and judicial independence in the Kurdistan Region is “untransparent, unrealistic and contradictory”, wrote the Kurdistan Region’s international advocacy office on Wednesday.

The US Department of State recently published its report for 2022 on Iraq and Kurdistan Region’s human rights condition.

“The report has assessed the current state of affairs in the Kurdistan Region in a very untransparent, unrealistic and incorrect manner,” containing “double standards and duplicity,” the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Office of the Coordinator for International Advocacy wrote in a statement.

The Office criticized the report for failing to include steps the KRG has taken against terrorism, which poses a “significant threat” to the Kurdistan Region.

With regards to the freedom of the press,“ it is evident that the freedom of thought and press are fully respected in the Kurdistan Region,” the government agency said, citing that several media outlets operate freely and independently, and are often critical of the government without any intimidation or repercussions.

Unfortunately, the report relied on a number of “informal sources” and media outlets, who are “politically motivated.”

The KRG judicial system is independent and impartial, says the advocacy coordinator. The report alleged due process issues with the courts by highlighting the trials of detainees. In fact, these cases were related to national security concerns, but were transparent and conducted in the presence of the United Nations, NGOs, and members of parliament, according to the statement by the KRG coordinator for international advocacy.

Despite providing data to the US Department of State through the US Consulate General in Erbil in 2022, the report does not include any of the government’s positions. 

“By failing to include the KRG’s input, the report was not impartial or balanced in its assessment of the region. The advocacy office declared that it will respond to the report more thoroughly in the coming days.

“It is concerning that the US Consulate General [in Erbil] supports and only deals with individuals, media groups, and so-called civil society groups that have political agendas and do not operate with legal permits,” it added.

Regarding the security forces in the Kurdistan Region, the Office reiterated that all security and intelligence agencies operate under the supervision of the Kurdish Security Council.

There is a clear double standard when it comes to respecting the rule of law, says the KRG coordinator.  The report applies “different standards” when it comes to the assassiantion of a security officer, Colonel Hawkar Jaff, in Erbil last year,” adding, “US military officials meet and take pictures with the main perpetrator of the assassination, who is wanted under an arrest warrant.

Despite the determinations and conclusions found in the report, the courts in the Kurdistan Region are “independent” and the government does not interfere with judicial affairs, per the statement.

Last year, the KRG released a comprehensive human rights action plan to improve and implement international human rights standards in the Kurdistan region. It’s one of the main initiatives supported by Prime minister Masrour Barzani to establish a long-term domestic and international cooperative plan.