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Kirkuk commission to investigate terrorism, human rights abuses

By Khalid al-Taie

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Security forces check the identification documents of Kirkuk residents. [Photo courtesy of the Kirkuk Police Directorate]

Kirkuk's provincial council recently announced the formation of a commission to investigate cases related to terrorism and human rights in the province.

The commission, formed on January 26th by the Supreme Judicial Council, consists of a chairman and three members -- two judges and an attorney general -- in addition to several investigators and legal experts.

This step is part of the government's plan to enforce law and order and to support stability and cohesion among all segments of Kirkuk society, officials said.

The commission is working in co-operation with Kirkuk's local authority and security agencies, Kirkuk provincial council security committee chairman Burhan al-Assi told Diyaruna.

It has started to look into terrorism cases and is investigating persons of interest, he said.

"The commission is operating according to the country’s criminal investigations procedure and the Iraqi penal code," he said.

This gives wanted individuals and suspects detained during security and military operations full legal rights, including a defence attorney and legal review before standing trial, he added.

IDPs connected to ISIS under scrutiny

The commission also will look into cases of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were flagged for supporting the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

It will investigate these people and give them a chance to present their cases before a court of law, in the event that a guilty verdict has been reached.

"Before they are allowed to return, IDPs are subjected to stringent security checks" to make sure they are not on a terrorism watchlist or involved in any type of criminal activity, al-Assi said.

The commission also will investigate cases of human rights and private property violations of IDPs at the hands of terrorists and criminals.

"ISIS was responsible for displacing no less than 250,000 people, most of whom are residents of eastern Kirkuk," said Kirkuk provincial council member Maan Mohammed.

He expressed his confidence that the commission will support law and order in Kirkuk by protecting the rights of victims and compensating them for their losses.

The new commission will be processing complaints from the families of missing individuals, he said, noting that official estimates put the number of missing and displaced people at around 5,000, some of whom have been missing since 2003.

'Justice will take its course'

The formation of this commission confirms the government’s commitment to enforcing stability and the rule of law in the province, said Iraqi MP for Kirkuk Khalid al-Mafraji.

"After closing the chapter of terrorism and chaos, we are now looking forward to a new dawn, where terrorists and outlaws feel unsafe and are prosecuted so that justice is served," he said.

Al-Mafraji said he has received reassurances from the government that justice will take its course with regard to all cases related to human rights violations.

The Iraqi government's commitment to law and order in the province will help "establish the pillars of co-existence and prosperity", he said.

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