Euro-Med Monitor launches advocacy campaign to stop the bloodshed against peaceful protesters in Iraq

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has sent letters to the European Union and the French and German governments, urging them to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to stop the use of lethal force against ongoing popular protests, and to immediately stop the use of violence against peaceful protestors.

The Geneva-based organization said in a statement that it had sent letters to Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and German Foreign Minister Haikou Massu, briefing them on the bloody security campaigns against protesters calling for the overthrow of the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi for failing to tackle corruption and solve the issues of power outages and unemployment in Iraq.

The Euro-Med expressed its grave concern over the ongoing violence and repression by Iraqi authorities which was made possible by the agreements signed between the Iraqi government and the European Union against popular protests over the past two months.

In its letter to the Iraqi government, the Euro-Med called for an immediate and serious investigation into the killings by security forces, calling for their withdrawal from areas of contact with protesters, and for ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The organization called for the release of detainees detained at the protests, compensation for all victims of violations for the illegal use of force by security forces and adopting effective steps to confirm the Iraqi government’s commitment to freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by international and domestic laws.

Since the protests erupted on October 1, the Euro-Med has documented the deaths of more than 363 protesters by security forces and snipes, as well as the injury of more than 15,000 others for expressing their opinions, as guaranteed by the Iraqi Constitution and international agreements to protect the right to freedom of peaceful opinion and assembly.

The Euro-Med said its teams documented horrific details of killings and abductions of unarmed demonstrators, journalists, human rights activists and observers, and monitored a series of security campaigns organized by Iraqi police, security forces and military formations against demonstrations, especially in the provinces of Southern Iraq. The organization monitored the closure of several media outlets, most recently on November 24, as the Iraqi government issued a decision to close the offices of 8 television channels, and 4 other media outlets for 3 months for allegedly violating “the codes of professional conduct.”

In a letter to the European Union, the Euro-Med said the French government continues to assist Iraqi internal security forces by providing them with military support and training, including weapons used to deal with peaceful demonstrations. The Geneva-based group noted that Germany too extended in September the training of the German mission (Bundeswehr) of the Iraqi local troops for a year.

The organization added in its letter to the German Foreign Minister, “We find it disturbing that the member states of the European Union continue to help the Iraqi authorities and have not yet considered to benefit from this assistance at least to ensure respect for human rights.”

The Euro-Med pointed out that between 2014 and 2018, Iraq was the main country buying arms from the Czech Republic while during the same period, France provided 8.6% of arms imports to the Middle East, including Iraq.

The Euro-Med stated that although the EU imposed an embargo on arms exports to Iraq in 2003, in 2004 it adopted the Common Position 2004/553/CFSP, which authorized the sale, supply, transfer, or export of weapons and related materials required by the newly established Government of Iraq.

In its letter to the French Foreign Minister, the Euro-Med said that since the outbreak of the Iraqi protests, Paris has not reduced its military assistance nor taken necessary punitive measures against the Iraqi authorities to curb its use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, noting that this unfortunate slowdown could make France complicit in such tragic events taking place in Iraq.

The Euro-Med called on the EU to consider re-imposing the arms embargo, even partially, to ensure that military training and arms exports from EU member states are not used to commit new violations against peaceful protests.

The organization stressed the need for the European Union to consider the use of its assistance to Iraq in order to ensure that the government of Abdul-Mahdi complies with its responsibilities towards non-violent protests and to stop use of force against demonstrators.

The Euro-Med called on the European Union to pressure the Iraqi government to show adequate respect for human rights in Iraq, in addition to pledging not to use EU aid and military supplies to suppress peaceful protests.

The Euro-Med concluded by calling on the French government to suspend the training of personnel and other forms of assistance of the Iraqi government until it abides by its responsibilities towards non-violent protests, stop all forms of use of force against them, and open immediate and serious investigations into the brutal use of violence against them in the last two months and pledge to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with Iraqi and international laws.

(Source: Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor)

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said that the continuation of the European Union’s implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Iraq in the light of the security services’ continued use of lethal force against the escalating protests does not serve the goals and values of promoting human rights principles and spreading democracy in the war-torn country.

The Euro-Med had made a series of contacts and sent urgent letters to members of the European Parliament, including the European Parliamentary Relations Committee, and the Subcommittee on Human Rights in the Parliament to inform them of the suppression of demonstrations in the country, calling on the EU to suspend its partnership agreement with Iraq.

The Euro-Med questioned the feasibility of continuing the implementation of the agreement with the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, which continues to launch systematic and bloody campaigns against popular protests calling for overthrowing the government for failing to address corruption and addressing electricity cuts and unemployment.

The European Commission announced earlier that the agreement focuses on common interests of the EU and Iraq such as democracy and human rights, economic, migration, security, energy, environmental affairs.

Since the start of the second wave of anti-government protests last Friday, at least 74 Iraqis have been killed and hundreds of others have been injured, raising the total death toll in October to 231.

The Euro-Med warned of the danger of targeting thousands of Iraqi protesters in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad for the fourth day in a row by the security services pointing out that the security solution will not contribute to putting down the protests, but it would only increase tension.

Despite the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s announcement that its forces had faced protests with gas and rubber bullets, the protesters affirmed snipers fired live bullets to disperse the protests.

The Euro-Med documented that on the fifth of October snipers targeted protesters and caused deaths, while others were seriously injured in three locations in Baghdad and in the southern Iraqi governorates during the first wave of protests, which lasted for eight days.

The use of lethal force against protesters and the arrest of hundreds of them violates the international and Iraqi laws. The UN Code of Conduct stipulates that law enforcement officials exercising powers should protect all people from harm.

The Code of Conduct stipulates that the officials should respect and protect human dignity and preserve the human rights of all persons during the performance of their duties.

The Euro-Med stressed the need for the Iraqi government to enable citizens, media and political activists to bear their responsibilities so that people could express their opinions freely by giving them enough space to publish and share news and updates, without restriction or prosecution.

The Euro-Med called on the Iraqi government to immediately release all citizens and activists who were arrested over participating in the protests, stressing that their continued detention constitutes a serious and a clear violation of international laws and conventions, which guarantee the right to freedom of opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly.

“The failure of the Ministry of Health, hospitals and health departments in Baghdad and a number of Iraqi provinces to issue official statistics of the number of deaths and injuries is a violation of the Iraqi Human Rights Commission Law No. 53 of 2008,” Omar Abdullah, a researcher at Euro-Med said.

Abdullah added that the Iraqi authorities should adhere to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which provide for the use of non-violent means by security forces as far as possible before resorting to force.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called on the Iraqi authorities to initiate an immediate and impartial investigation into the use of lethal force in dispersing the protesters, and to investigate allegations that security forces did not allow medical staff to provide services to the injured, and to ensure that all the wounded receive immediate care without obstacles.

The Euro-Med urged the EU to suspend the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement until Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government brings members of the Iraqi security forces, including commanders responsible for the use of excessive lethal force to court, and to stop using any form of violence against demonstrators. The Euro-Med called on the Iraqi authorities to take concrete actions to affirm its commitment to freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly in the country.

(Source: Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor)

The EITI Board has decided that Iraq has made meaningful progress in implementing the EITI Standard.

Validation, the EITI’s quality assurance process, found that Iraq’s performance in implementing EITI Requirements has improved markedly since the country’s first Validation in 2017. Iraq’s suspension as a result of poor results in its first Validation has now been lifted, a development that reflects a substantial rate of progress over the last two years.

“Iraq’s implementation of the EITI Standard is now disclosing some USD 45bn in crude oil sales annually,” said Chair of the EITI Board Helen Clark. “The challenge now is for Iraq to strengthen multi-stakeholder oversight of its extractive industries and to use this emerging transparency to enhance accountability in the governance of its natural resources.”

Breaking ground in data disclosures

The Board recognised Iraq’s progress, through the EITI, in disclosing information that was previously inaccessible to stakeholders, ranging from data on oilfields and petroleum property rights to publishing the financial statements of oil and gas state-owned enterprises.

Iraq’s most recent EITI reporting also provides a diagnostic of the efficacy of government oversight of the extractives, including in identifying arrears of undisbursed subnational transfers of ‘petrodollar’ allocations. Validation has acknowledged these tangible gains in the transparency of Iraq’s oil and gas sector, building on a series of first-ever disclosures.

“The results of this second Validation reflect our concerted efforts to open up the management of Iraq’s oil and gas industry through regular and comprehensive disclosures,” said Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil Thamer Al-Ghadhban. “We want to use the EITI not only to frame our systematic disclosures of oil and gas data but more importantly to support an evidence-based debate on our reforms.”

From transparency to accountability

Yet this emerging transparency has not been matched by commensurate efforts to ensure the data contributes to public debate and decision-making. Systematically disclosing data required by the EITI Standard would enable Iraq to focus on using EITI data to improve accountability in the governance of the oil and gas sector.

The Board encouraged Iraq to integrate its systematic disclosures of EITI data to ongoing public finance management reforms, such as the World Bank and European Union’s modernisation of Public Financial Management systems project.

The Board also urged Iraq to strengthen its multi-stakeholder oversight of the extractives to ensure more active contributions from companies and civil society to the government’s management of the extractive industries, including through the Multi-Stakeholder Group overseeing EITI implementation.

The decision by the EITI Board gives Iraq 18 months to address 12 gaps in its implementation of the EITI Standard before a third Validation on 17 April 2021.

Iraq submitted an adapted implementation request for its 2016-2018 EITI Reports, and the Board did not therefore take account of weaknesses in coverage of Iraqi Kurdistan in its assessment of Iraq’s progress in implementing the EITI Standard.

(Source: EITI)

By Nick O’Connell, Partner, Al Tamimi & Co.

This briefing note was originally published by lus laboris and is republished with permission by Iraq Business News.

In Iraq the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has had limited impact.

There is currently no modern data protection law in Iraq, and there is accordingly no data protection authority.

There are Iraqi law considerations that could be material in the context of considering personal data processing activities, either in an HR context or more broadly.

These have not been prepared with GDPR in mind. They range from general provisions protecting privacy or providing for remedies where someone causes damage to another.

Depending on the circumstances of a data breach, it may be prudent to consider notifying law enforcement authorities and affected individuals, although there is no generally applicable legal obligation to do so.

Joint statement by HR/VP Mogherini and Iraqi Foreign Minister Alhakim on the EU-Iraq relations and regional cooperation

The European Union and Iraq strongly affirm their shared commitment to peace and stability in the wider Middle East and call for the de-escalation of the current tensions in the region, reminding that the risks and the consequences may affect Iraq, the region and beyond.

The EU and Iraq share a common vision for the region and wish to proactively support actions and initiatives to promote dialogue instead of confrontation, aiming to build a cooperative framework based on shared interests. Cooperation is the strongest foundation of a long-term regional security, stability and sustainable development.

The European Union remains committed towork together with the Iraqi government to promote these values and is firmly of the view that the Iraqi proposal of a regional conference merits full support and engagement.

Iraq and EU reaffirm their strong bond of partnership and friendship, deepened in recent years during the joint cooperation to defeat Da’esh. The EU highly values Iraq’s contribution and sacrifices in the war against terrorism and supports its efforts to eradicate all forms of terrorist ideology.

Iraq strongly appreciates EU’s support to the Government of Iraq and to the Iraqi people as well as the EU’s commitment to peace and stability in the Middle East through diplomatic engagement.

The 2018 EU Strategy for Iraq defines the mechanism to support the political and economic priorities of the partnership with the Government. The entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Iraq (PCA) in August 2018 sets the legal framework for this partnership.

Both sides look forward to swift implementation, which will reinforce cooperation on a range of topics of mutual interest, including democracy and human rights, economic and trade matters, energy, security, transport, environment and migration-related issues.

The EU and the Government of Iraq will continue to work together to achieve the objectives of the Conference for Iraq Reconstruction held in Kuwait in February 2018 to provide a better future for the Iraqi people, based on improved governance and inclusive economic development.

Since 2014, the EU has provided €1.2 billion in humanitarian, stabilisation, development, and security cooperation, which is the best testimony of its long term commitment to a strategic partnership with Iraq.

(Source: EU)

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

The European Union (EU) – via the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis – adopted a €100 million new assistance package to support the resilience of refugees, internally displaced person (IDP) host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

This will be done through the strengthening of public service delivery systems, improved access to higher education, and improved child protection services.

With this new package €1.6 billion out of a total of €1.8 billion mobilised by the EU Trust Fund have now been turned into financing concrete actions helping refugees and host countries alike.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented:

“The EU delivers on its commitments. With these additional €100 million of assistance, the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis continues to support refugees to become increasingly economically self-reliant. Through access to income generating opportunities, they are able to take their livelihoods in their own hands, provide for themselves, and preserve their dignity.

“At the same time we are supporting host communities and Syria’s neighbours in their effort to expand their economies while coping with challenges related to the conflict which is still ongoing”.

The newly adopted €100 million aid package consists of the following actions:

  • €55 million to support the resilience of refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €28.4 million for access to higher education for refugees and vulnerable host youth in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €12.5 million to provide protection services to children and women victim of gender based violence in Lebanon;
  • €3.6 million to continue and strengthen the Trust Fund’s horizontal monitoring and evaluation framework.

This assistance package has been adopted by the EU Trust Fund’s Operational Board, which brings together the European Commission, fifteen EU Member States, and Turkey. Observers of the Operational Board include members of the European Parliament, representatives from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the World Bank, and the Syria Recovery Trust Fund.

The EU Trust Fund is now in its fifth year of implementation, but the Syria crisis is far from being over. Over time, the needs have changed and the Trust Fund has evolved from providing early recovery assistance focusing on addressing basic needs of those affected by the Syria crisis to equipping refugees and local communities with tools and skills for greater self-reliance.

The Trust Fund also focuses on reinforcing the national systems for public service delivery to meet refugee and local community needs in the longer term. Currently 67 projects have been contracted to implementing partners on the ground.

(Source: EU)