Kurdish Human Rights Commission releases annual Report 2013

Hawar Abdulrazaq – BasNews (Erbil): 12.12.2013 – The Kurdistan Human Rights Independent Commission has released this year’s report on human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.

During a press conference in Erbil, the head of the commission, Zeya Betruss Slewa, said that although human rights issues have improved, the region still faces difficulties.  “There are 183 prisoners who have been sentenced to death by hanging, we have called on authorities to review their cases,” said Slewa. “There is also a large number of prisoners in Kurdistan who are yet to be placed on trial,” Slewa added.

International organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have criticized Kurdish authorities’ human rights record. They have also acknowledged that the situation in Kurdistan is better when compared to the rest of Iraq.  

On Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) Kurdish president Massoud Barzani released a statement expressing the need to do more to improve human rights in the region.

“The Kurdistan Region has taken many steps in the right direction when it comes to protecting human rights, but it has yet to reach the expected level, and we still see violations of human rights,” read the statement.   Regarding workers’ rights in Iraqi Kurdistan Slewa said that their conditions have not improved: “in 2013, more than one hundred workers were killed  on their work place.” Last week Kurdish journalist Kawa Germyani was shot dead in front of his home in a town near Suliaymania. The murder started a wave of protests against local authorities for not protecting journalists. The commission accepted that there are still a lot of breaches of journalists’ rights, and that authorities need to do more to protect them.