International reports: Violations of journalists' rights have increased under the ninth cabinet's rule

Reports 03:58 PM - 2023-03-31
 Broken camera lense. PUKMEDIA

Broken camera lense.

Human Rights Kurdistan Region KRG

Violations against journalists have increased under the rule of the current cabinet of Kurdistan regional Government (KRG) as journalists have been detained without legal justification and punished under an article that is incompatible with the Kurdistan Region's journalism law.

According to PUKMEDIA research, over thirty international reports have described the Kurdistan Region's poor governance over the last two years, which is one of Masrour Barzani's cabinet's many failures.

People were punished for speaking out for the first time in history
International reports have detailed violations of the rights of journalists and party interference in the courts, particularly during the ninth cabinet. Party decisions violate the rights of journalists, particularly in Erbil and Duhok.
Karwan Anwar, Secretary of the Sulaymaniyah Branch of the Kurdistan Journalists Union, told PUKMEDIA: "The harsh tone of international reports is a result of the amendment of some laws on journalism, including Law No. 211 of the Iraqi Constitution, which has been amended in the Kurdistan Region."
"Under the amended version of this law, approximately 70 people have been arrested and tried in Erbil and Duhok, and some of which have been imprisoned," he added.
"European nations are advancing in terms of providing freedoms on a daily basis," Anwar stated, "whereas in the Kurdistan Region, particularly during the ninth cabinet, violations of journalists' rights are increasing and freedoms are being restricted."
"Many international reports indicated a restriction of freedoms in the Kurdistan Region, and if the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) does not pay attention to international reports, the situation regarding human rights and freedom of expression could worsen," he warned.
Journalists face terrorism charges
Freedom of expression has been restricted in Erbil and Duhok, and dozens of journalists have been arrested on various charges.
"Freedom of expression varies from region to region as restrictions are mainly in Erbil and Duhok," said Najat Rosti, director of the Media Organization's training program for journalists, to PUKMEDIA.

"During the past period, dozens of journalists have been imprisoned, which has damaged the reputation of the Kurdistan Region," he added.

"International reports do not lack sources, and their sources are accurate," he said, warning that "in the Kurdistan Region's Courts, journalists are charged with terrorism and other crimes, thereby restricting journalistic freedom."
The ninth cabinet was the worst for journalists
The ninth cabinet has exerted considerable pressure on journalists and media professionals. The law on providing information to journalists is not implemented, and only a few party channels have access to information, making the ninth cabinet the worst in the Kurdistan Region when it comes to dealing with journalists.
"Although there is a law on providing information in Kurdistan, this law has been monopolized by several party channels, and no information is provided to other channels," said Rosti.

"Among the other charges against journalists is contacting and meeting with foreign journalists and representatives of foreign countries, despite the fact that the authority meets with these figures every day," he added. 
Two years of Masrour Barzani's cabinet and 30 international reports
According to PUKMEDIA findings, more than 30 international reports have described the poor governance in the Kurdistan Region during the past two years. Instead of follow-up and addressing the situation, all reports have been responded to by the KRG's International Advocacy Office. A part of the failures of Masrour Barzani's cabinet, is that the KRG and KDP officials instead of giving a logical response to these reports, they attack the US consul himself and make accusations.
Journalists' rights violations have increased under the rule of this cabinet
Journalist Arian Muhammad told PUKMEDIA that the KRG should not see the international reports as statistics only, but rather take them into consideration and work to address the deficiencies.
"During the current cabinet's rule, violations of journalists' rights have increased, and they are punished with items that are far from the content of the Journalism Law, prompting international organizations to criticize the human rights situation and journalists' rights in the Kurdistan Region," he added.
Human rights state in decline
In its latest report, Amnesty International said that the KRG security forces continued to repress the right to freedom of expression and assembly.
It also indicated that KRG security forces arbitrarily arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned journalists, activists, and perceived critics. Two journalists and three political activists detained since August 2020 and convicted on national security-related charges in February 2021 went on three hunger strikes in 2022 to protest their continued detention, despite a decree issued in February by KRG president Nechirvan Barzani reducing their sentence from five to two years.


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