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 Iraqi Kurdistan’s Human Rights Commission Still Not Established 

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Iraqi Kurdistan’s Human Rights Commission Still Not Established  18.7.2011    

July 18, 2011

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Nearly two years ago the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) conceived of a Human Rights Commission to replace the dissolved Ministry of Human Rights. The commission, however, has never been established.

Tavga Omar Rasheed, a former official at the Ministry of Human Rights, said the government has not explained why the commission is not functioning yet.

“There are rumors that the government may have changed its mind about dissolving the Human Rights Ministry,” Rasheed said. “But they have not told us anything officially yet.”

The Kurdish government currently does not have an institution to officially address human rights issues. Meanwhile, international groups like Human Rights Watch have issued reports on human rights violations in the Kurdistan region.         
“Many human rights violations are committed,” Rasheed said, “but there is no office or institution where people can go and report their cases.”

The dissolved Ministry of Human Rights had 10 branches in Kurdistan and around 370 employees. Over the past two years, the KRG has spent approximately 3 billion Iraqi dinars on rent for the ministry’s branches and staff salaries even though they have not performed any duties.

Rasheed said her ministry worked hard to train its staff, but over the past two years most have transferred to other government jobs. Rasheed said she and her colleagues have reached out to the KRG several times in the hopes they will be reinstated in their former jobs.

Three months ago, Kurdistan’s Parliament formally asked the KRG to explain what had happened to the proposed Human Rights Commission.

Kardo Muhammad, an MP from the opposition Change Movement, told Rudaw, “We asked the government about the Human Rights Commission and they said they have some reservations about the laws of the commission. They [said they] would work on it and send the draft to Parliament for revision.”

Muhammad claimed the government “thinks Parliament is a government institution,” Muhammad said. “The government is obliged to carry out parliamentary decisions.”

Regarding the dissolution of the Human Rights Ministry, Muhammad said, “The government cannot change its mind about it. Only Parliament has the power to pass a new law to recreate the ministry.”

Independent human rights activists are frustrated by the lack of progress and believe the KRG isn’t serious about forming a Human Rights Commission.

Ali Kareem, the head of Kurdish Human Rights Institute said, “It is upsetting that the government has not been acting on a parliamentary decision for 13 months.”

Kareem also said it is equally important that commission members are independent.

In February, the Public Aid Organization held a conference in the Kurdish capital Erbil to discuss the establishment of the human rights commission. Hogir Chato,www.ekurd.netthe head of PAO, said the prime minister and Parliament Speaker once met to discuss the commission, “but they just do not follow up with it.”

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