P 301139Z DEC 09 FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5948 S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 003366 SUBJECT: MINISTRY OF HUMAN

RIGHTS REPORT ACCUSES KRG OF EXTRALEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTIONS REF: BAGHDAD 2798 Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Gary A. Grappo for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: A recent Ministry of Human Rights (MOHR) report on its inspection of prisons in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) documents allegations by detainees that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of Arabs from territories outside of those administered by the KRG. Some detainees cited in the report allege that Coalitions Forces detained them and transferred them to the custody of the KRG. The GOI's Minister of Human Rights is justifiably concerned the report could exacerbate Arab-Kurd tensions and, believing that the United States may have more leverage than the GOI to press the KRG on sensitive human rights issues, has asked the Embassy to raise the matter with the KRG. ¶2. (C) SUMMARY (continued): The report highlights

long-standing allegations that assayesh and Peshmerga elements illegally detain non-Kurds in the disputed internal boundary (DIBs) and adjacent areas and transfer them to the IKR, a significant point of contention between Kurds and non-Kurds. Complicating our position is the Embassy's understanding that Coalition Forces (CF), fighting at the height of the insurgency and concerned that GOI authorities were likely to release extremist prisoners, chose to remand some individuals detained in the DIBs to assayesh and other Kurdish elements with the understanding that they would be transferred to the IKR for detention. The Ambassador's Senior Advisor for Northern Affairs has highlighted assayesh operations (including detentions) in the DIBs and adjacent areas as a driver of instability and underscored the merging assayesh elements (currently split into PUK and KDP-affiliated wings) and curbing their provocative practices are necessary to facilitate further reconciliation of Arab-Kurd interests. The USG, through several military and diplomatic channels, is actively pressing the Kurds to move forward on this issue. END SUMMARY. ----------------------------------------------MOHR REPORT CITES ILLEGAL DETENTIONS BY KURDISH ELEMENTS ----------------------------------------------¶3. (C) An October 25 MOHR report on its inspection of prisons in the IKR documents allegations by detainees that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of Arabs from territories outside of

those administered by the KRG. The report notes that 22 individuals -- 9 in a prison in Sulaymaniya and 13 in the KRG assayesh Prevention Detention Center -- claim they were arrested (some by Coalition Forces) in territories outside of the formally recognized IKR provinces and transported to the IKR for trial and detention. There are effectively two prison systems in the Kurdistan Region. One, run by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, covers most crimes and follows the Swedish rehabilitative model. The other, far less transparent system is run by the KRG's assayesh (internal intelligence service). There are credible reports of systematic human rights abuses in assayesh detention facilities and prisons. ¶4. (C) The detainees claimed they were detained in Ninewa, Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. Some said they were detained in the DIBs of those provinces; others claimed they were well within areas of those provinces acknowledged to be administered by the Government of Iraq (GOI) vice the KRG. The MOHR report further notes that the crimes for which the 22 individuals were tried and convicted occurred outside of the territories where the KRG has jurisdiction, calling into question the legality of their detention. --------------------------------------------MINISTER ASKS EMBASSY TO RAISE CASES WITH KRG --------------------------------------------¶5. (C) The Ministry report is the product of an inspection tour of 18 detention facilities located

in the IKR made by representatives of the national MOHR and the KRG Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, KRG Ministry of Interior, and intelligence service (assayesh). In a meeting with DCM on October 28, Minister of Human Rights Wijdan Selim expressed concern that the report had the potential to increase Arab-Kurd friction were it to be made public. At the meeting, Selim expressed reservations about sending it forward to the Prime Minister and to the KRG; she has since confirmed to Poloff that the report was indeed sent in November. (Note: UNAMI officials told Deputy PolCouns on December 24 that the Minister declined to share copies of the report with the UN, KRG or other branches of the GOI. End note.) The Minister provided a copy of the report and asked that the Embassy use its influence with the Kurds to raise awareness of the issue, believing that the United States might have more leverage than the GOI to press the KRG on a sensitive human rights issue. --------------------------------NEW REPORT, BUT NOT A NEW PROBLEM --------------------------------¶6. (C) The report throws into stark relief longstanding allegations that assayesh and Peshmerga elements illegally detain non-Kurds in the DIBs and, in some instances, transport those individuals to the IKR for detention (although not necessarily for trial). Those allegations have been a significant point of friction between Kurdish and non-Kurdish provincial officials in the DIBs areas and regions adjacent to them and, to a lesser extent, between the GOI and the KRG. For example,

in a meeting with Senior Advisor for Northern Iraq (SANI) on September 24 (details reftel), Ninewa Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi complained that Peshmerga and especially assayesh elements were actively harassing and detaining non-Kurds. He characterized the detentions as both a tool to influence provincial politics and part of a broader effort by the KRG to lay claim to sizable portions of Ninewa as a bargaining chip in final status negotiations over DIBs areas. ¶7. (C) In a meeting later that day, Khisro Goran, chief of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Mosul and former Ninewa Vice Governor, conceded that the Assayesh sometimes obtained information about individuals and "asked them to appear for questioning." He claimed that only occurred in Kurdish-held areas, and not in Mosul itself, which falls outside areas of the province in which Kurdish elements hold sway by tacit (albeit grudging) agreement. Goran added that the assayesh do not have the right to arrest or detain individuals, but conceded that there "may have been some incidents" in the past in which they exceeded their brief. Resolving outstanding disputes over detainees held in Kurdish facilities is also a component of DPM Rafi al-Issawi's effort to mediate between feuding Arab and Kurdish factions of Ninewa's Provincial Council. As part of his effort to promote Arab-Kurd reconcilation in Ninewa, DPM Rafi al-Issawi has asked Ninewa provincial officials for a list of detainees held by the KRG; however, he has not received anything to date.

--------------------------------------------POTENTIAL U.S. EQUITIES DATE FROM HEIGHT OF INSURGENCY --------------------------------------------¶8. (S/NF) The MOHR report potentially touches on U.S. equities as well. The Embassy's understanding is that Coalition Forces (CF), fighting at the height of the insurgency and concerned that GOI authorities would probably release extremist prisoners deemed likely to engage in attacks against CF, chose instead to transfer some individuals detained in the DIBs to assayesh and other Kurdish elements. It was understood that those detainees of particular concern would be transferred to the IKR for detention and, in some cases, trial. Were the MOHR report, with its claims that Coalition Forces transferred detainees to the IKR for detention, to be widely publicized, it could prompt further questions about the manner in which those detainees were remanded to the KRG's custody. Given that Iraq is in the midst of a national election campaign, that subject would be particularly difficult to address. It would also constitute a significant irritant in Arab-Kurd relations, potentially complicating efforts to move forward the Northern Security Architecture and DPM al-Issawi's Ninewa Qthe Northern Security Architecture and DPM al-Issawi's Ninewa mediation effort. ¶9. (C) COMMENT: The MOHR's report on its inspection of IKR prisons is a positive sign that it is becoming more assertive in tackling human rights issues throughout Iraq, despite the

potential political ramifications. While the report only identifies 22 individuals by name, anecdotal reports from provincial officials in Ninewa and Kirkuk suggest that the number of detainees from DIBs areas and those adjacent to them held by the KRG could be in the hundreds, if not more. While the GOI struggles with its own detainee issues, the Minister's concerns about the potential for this report to exacerbate Arab-Kurd friction -- in particular if it is released to the public -- are reasonable given tensions in the DIBs areas and the extent to which Assayesh detentions in them have become a source of friction. So far, the report has not generated public reaction and there does not yet appear to be much appetite among GOI officials -who have admittedly been distracted by the election law debate and other issues -- to use it to make political hay. ¶10. (C) How we ultimately deal with the cases of individuals detained and transferred when the security situation was at its lowest point, some of whom remain in the custody of the KRG, is a problem that will require considerable reflection. In meetings with a range of senior KRG officials, SANI has highlighted assayesh operations (including detentions) in the DIBs and adjacent areas as a driver of instability and underscored that merging assayesh elements (currently split into PUK- and KDP-affiliated wings), curbing extra-legal practices and establishing operational linkage between assayesh and the Iraq National Intelligence Service (INIS) are essential to further reconciliation of Arab-Kurd interests. Such measures are also in the interest of the Kurds and will, moreover, advance U.S. diplomatic aims by

removing a major source of friction in the DIBs region. The USG, through several military and diplomatic channels, is actively pressing the Kurds to move forward on this issue, and will intensify this effort over the coming months. END COMMENT. FORD (Edited and reading.) reformatted by Andres for ease of

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