Iraq: Kurds limit women’s rights, press freedom

Journalists in Iraq’s Kurdistan face arrest and harassment for reporting on government corruption and poor public services, the UN says in a new report on the autonomous region. The report also criticises Kurdish officials for failing to respond to growing cases of “honor killings” and other violence against women, and charges that hundreds of detainees in Kurdish prisons are held without charge.

“The (Kurdish) authorities continued to subject journalists to harassment, arrest and legal actions for their reporting on government corruption, poor public services or other issues of public interest,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) found.

Women’s rights to life and personal security remained a “serious concern” in the Kurdish provinces of Arbil, Dahuk and Sulaimaniya, UNAMI said. “Between January and March, UNAMI received information on some 40 cases of alleged honour crimes…where young women reportedly died from ‘accidental burns’ at their homes or were killed by family members for suspected ‘immoral’ conduct.”

Drawing on its image of a haven of stable democracy, Kurdistan plans to build a $400 million “media village” for international organizations. (Reuters, April 25)

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