The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) “continued to threaten basic human rights and target civil society actors” during 2022, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The dire record emerges despite a five-year plan announced by the KRG to address human rights issues in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
KRI authorities used “vaguely worded laws” to target those who expressed criticism and opinions they objected to, HRW said. This led to the arrest of dozens of journalists and activists in August 2022, ahead of planned protests by KRG critics. HRW also highlighted a similar case in 2021, in which three journalists and two activists were sentenced to six years in prison after a trial “marred by serious fair trial violations and political interference”.
Members of the KRG proposed a bill on 4 September 2022 punishing any individual or group in support of LGBT rights, which a majority of legislators signed.
An Iraqi Kurdish journalist held in the UK pending deportation since June, fears for his life if he is forced to return to his home country, due to having voiced criticism on the KRI’s human rights record.
In March of this year, the KRG released three of five activists known as the “Badinan detainees”, while the other two remain behind bars. Over 100 were arrested in 2019 by the KRG during demonstrations in the country’s Badinan region. The majority of the demonstrators were later released.