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HRW Praises Improvements in ISIS Trial Procedures in Nineveh

HRW Praises Improvements in ISIS Trial Procedures in Nineveh

Thursday, 14 March, 2019 - 12:00
An empty courtroom at Nineveh’s counterterrorism court in Tal Kayf, north of Mosul. AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo
Baghdad - Fadhel al-Nashmi
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has praised judicial procedures against ISIS suspects in northern Iraq’s Nineveh governorate.

Following a December 2017 HRW report, judges in Nineveh are requiring a higher evidentiary standard to detain and prosecute suspects, minimizing the court’s reliance on confessions alone, erroneous wanted lists and unsubstantiated allegations, the organization said.

“What we see in Nineveh is a significant shift in the way that prosecutions are proceeding,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Throwing out cases with flimsy or no evidence is a step forward, but more work is needed to ensure defendants are not mistreated and get fair trials.”

Head of the investigation court Raed al-Maslah said that the court “was taking action to improve overall respect of the rule of law.”

He said that in response to a HRW report uncovering a prison the National Security Service (NSS) was illegally running in Mosul, he asked the NSS to transfer the several hundred prisoners to the Interior Ministry. He acknowledged they still held about 70 detainees.

However, HRW researchers observed that in October 2018, in Baghdad’s second criminal court, Risafa, “judges continue to process cases solely based on a defendant’s confession, with the defendant frequently alleging torture to extract the statement.”

Iraqi authorities demanded considering “transferring cases from Baghdad to the Nineveh counter-terrorism court if the suspect is believed to have committed their crime in Nineveh.”

Member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights Ali al-Bayati was not surprised by the HRW report, saying the organization’s praise on improvements in recent months is the outcome of new procedures adopted by Iraqi courts.

Bayati told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the current supervision of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in addition to the monitoring of international organizations have contributed to the witnessed progress.

Mosul Activist Zaid al-Tai praised the judicial authority’s performance, giving consent to the Human Rights Watch report on Nineveh.

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