Legal professionals in Erbil (Hewlêr) have raised concerns regarding the independence of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s (KRI) courts, suggesting that decisions are influenced by external pressures from political entities and individuals. This issue is seen as a critical impediment to the judicial process and the upholding of legal standards in the region.
In recent years, multiple political figures, attorneys, journalists, intellectuals, and citizens have been subject to detention, abduction, or imprisonment without proper legal justification. The cases involving Bahdinan (Behdinan) prisoners and journalists are particularly indicative of this trend. The influence exerted by political parties, officials, and the ruling powers on legal proceedings and judicial verdicts is eroding the courts’ reputation in the Kurdistan Region.
Goran Dîbegeyî, a lawyer based in Erbil, spoke to Roj News, stating, “The Kurdistan Region’s courts are unable to make autonomous decisions because of meddling by certain factions and judicial personnel. Courts are under the thumb of these groups, which prevents legal resolutions to cases. The way the Behdinan prisoners’ cases have been handled, in violation of legal norms, is a testament to the erosion of the rule of law”.
Dîbegeyî emphasised the importance of judicial officials and courts upholding their legal duties to curb such interferences in court matters.
Additionally, Rêbin Sebah, another lawyer, voiced criticism of the interventions in court rulings, remarking, “The courts in the Kurdistan Region are facing violations of their sovereignty. The verdicts are not reached impartially as an overriding power steers the courts. In the Kurdistan Region, the whims of parties, the powerful, and individuals override the law, leading to judicial personnel and courts breaching legal statutes”.
Sebah concluded by underscoring the necessity for judicial officers and courts to adhere to the principle of legal supremacy, to enable the impartial and just application of law.