ERBIL — The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has rejected a recent report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) which accused the Kurdish forces of detaining 350 people in Kirkuk, whom, according to the watchdog, “are feared to have forcibly disappeared.”
In an official statement on Saturday, KRG’s Committee for Monitoring and Responding to International Reports said that the detainees are linked to the Islamic State (IS), and they surrendered to the Kurdistan Region’s security forces following the Hawija operation in late September 2017.
The committee further explained that until 16th October when the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed militias of Hashd al-Shaabi took over Kirkuk, there were no detainees held by the Kurdish forces in the city. However, there was a transitional house of detention in Dubis where the Peshmerga were holding the IS militants or suspects there before being transferred to the General Directorate of Security Affairs in Erbil.
Concerning the huge influx of IDPs who arrived at the Peshmerga front lines following the anti-IS military operations elsewhere, the KRG said that only male IDPs where sent through a security check before entering the Peshmerga-held areas. “The security check is an ordinary one to ensure terrorists and suicide bombers are not disguised among the IDPs,” said the committee, noting that, taking traditions and cultural sensitivities into consideration, no female IDPs were sent through such a security check.
According to the statement, each suspect has been given the right to have a lawyer and regularly meet their families, while those proved to be unlinked to the terrorists have been released immediately.
Elaborating on the case of the 350 detainees mentioned in the HRW report, the committee clarifies that these people surrendered themselves to the Peshmerga forces after the launch of Hawija battle. Their families had fled the city and moved to J’eda or Ja’da IDP camps under the control of the Iraqi army, but the detainees, all of whom are Sunni Arabs, were left with no choice but surrender, so they surrendered to the Kurdish forces.
According to figures revealed in KRG’s report, the Kurdish forces arrested a total of 380 people for terror charges in 2014, 2015 and 2016, while 16 others were arrested between January and June 2017.
131 were interrogated between 2014 and 2016 with six others in the first half of 2017.
A total of 35 detainees received sentences in 2014, 2015, 2016.
The KRG has also made it clear that it is ready to coordinate with security authorities in the Iraqi federal government to transfer the IS detainees to Baghdad, however, the process is required to be through official channels and in cooperation with the United Nations.