Iraqi Kurdistan authorities to free more 'prisoners of conscience'

Iraqi Kurdistan authorities to free more 'prisoners of conscience'
Judicial authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan region are set to free a 35-year old mother of five held without charge for over 16 months, after releasing two more "prisoners of conscience" last week.
3 min read
18 April, 2022
A prison stands alone in the main prison in Sulaimaniya, Northern Iraq, 4 February 2004. [Getty]

Authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan region are set to free Berivan Ayoub Hassan, a 35-year old mother of five held without charge for over 16 months, following the release of two more "prisoners of conscience" last Thursday, a lawyer defending the prisoners told The New Arab.

Hassan, along with hundreds of other protestors from the Badinan area of Duhok province, was accused by the Kurdistan Region's Security Council (KRSC)  of "endangering national security" on the back of anti-government protests in Dohuk 2020.

Her trial was postponed twice before she was sentenced on 6 March to two years in prison for her participation in the anti-government demonstrations. 

"God willing, Berivan will be freed this week," Bashdar Hassan, a lawyer defending the Badinan prisoners, told The New Arab during a brief phone interview. "All the prisoners were charged with destabilizing Kurdistan's security, but the court could not prove those accusations."

"The prisoners cannot ask for compensation once freed from jail," he noted. 

For their parts, Masoud Ali Shingali, 48, and Sherwan Taha Ameen, 36, were arrested in Duhok in August and September of 2020 under the charge of "espionage for foreign countries and endangering national security" and both were freed last week by the Kurdish authorities, according to court documents obtained by The New Arab from a defence lawyer handling their cases.

The decree by Dohuk Appeal Court, on Masoud Ali Shingali. 

Both men were convicted by Erbil's Criminal Court on 8 September 2021 under article 156 of Iraqi Penal Code Law No. 111 of 1969, which has been amended by the Kurdistan region's parliament and was replaced by Law No.21, for the year of 2003.

On 27 March, the Erbil Appellate Criminal Court reduced the sentences of Shingali and Ameen from two and a half years and three and a half years, respectively, to two years each.

After they had spent two-thirds of their sentence in detention, Dohuk's Appeal Court decided on 13 April to release them on the condition they do not repeat their charges, otherwise, they will be arrested again. 

Ameen, a graduate from the School of Education at the University of Glasgow with a Master's Degree in Adult Education in 2015, has been working at Nawroz University in Duhok as a lecturer for the English language.

The decree by Dohuk Appeal Court on Sherwan Taha Ameen, 36.

The release of the prisoners follows immense scrutiny on the Kurdish authorities by the international community, rights groups and the international media.  

"The KRG inconsistently applied procedures to address allegations of abuse by KRG's ministry of interior officers or the Asayish security forces. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported in August and December some IKR prisons failed to respect basic standards and procedural safeguards and that the mechanisms in place to receive complaints of torture did not appear to be effective or to provide remedy," The United State State Department said in its 2021 report on human rights practices published on Tuesday.