Iraqi Kurdistan: The case of one political prisoner


October 2013
Kurdistan: The case of one political prisoner

In May
2013, Amnesty International (AI) contacted CPT and asked whether the
team in Suleimani would be willing to meet with a lawyer involved in
a case covered by AI. Lawyer Kak Umer told CPT that the former
General Director of the ASAISH (Iraqi Kurdistan intelligence and
security forces) Haqim Qader arrested Kak’s brother, Hussein Hama
Ali Tawfiq (known as Hajji Hussein), and allegedly ill-treated him in
prison demanding Hajji Hussein sign confessions against others. Hajji
refused and repeatedly suffered beatings and threats.* After his
release, he left Kurdistan for Germany to receive treatment for his

Hajji Hussein was in Germany, CPT met with others involved in the
case, including another international organization. CPT learned the
case is connected to a larger case. CPT met with another person
allegedly mistreated, and with Mrs. Sakar, wife of a former Suleimani
mayor, who died in prison in unclear circumstances.

Hajji Hussein was out of the country, the case was appealed. Hussein
voluntarily decided to come back and seek a just resolution through
the justice system. Upon return, he was re-arrested.

Kak Umer
asked CPT if the team would visit his brother in prison. On September
29, three CPT members went to Kani Goma prison with Kak Umer and two
other lawyers. Hajji told CPT that he hoped his case could be brought
to a close the following day, September 30, when a hearing was
scheduled in court, and that his charges would finally be dropped.
However, he expressed fear that something could happen on the way to
the court in the morning and that he might not reach the court alive.
CPT spoke with the director of the prison before leaving and informed
him that internationals would continue observing and documenting the

At court
the next morning, CPTers were very eager to see Hajji, hoping he
would arrive safely. CPTers saw several other cases and felt relieved
when Hajji Hussein arrived. He described the ill-treatment he
received in prison, and told the judges of the false confessions. CPT
noted that his file was several inches thick, and the lawyer told CPT
that the judges also had medical records from Germany. A prosecutor
called the judges attention to alleged inconsistency in Hussein’s
testimony and confession. Hussein claimed he did not sign the
testimony and confession. Again, the judges decided to postpone the
case, supposedly for further investigation.

Hussein looked shocked, disappointed, and fearful as he left the
courtroom. He told CPT that because of his revealing testimony, he
feared for his safety and uncertain future. Kak Umer asked CPT for
renewed efforts and support for his brother.

visited Haji Hussein in prison again on October 6. This time he
looked thinner and more fearful than before. He told CPT that the
prison guards have begun to treat him differently, to deny him things
that other prisoners are allowed. He is experiencing psychological

The next
hearing was originally scheduled to take place on October 13.
However, on October 8, Hajji’s lawyers informed the team that the
case would be transferred to a court in Erbil. If this happens, it
would take several months for the court to reopen the case, during
which time Hajji Hussein is required to stay in prison.

CPT asks
for the release of Hajji Hussein, and a safe return to his family.
CPT asks for the courts to seriously consider the record of alleged
ill-treatment suffered by Hajji Hussein, clearly an illegal act
perpetrated by the state actors. CPT also asks the KRG authorities
for a thorough investigation of the case and the treatment Hajji
Hussein received in prison, and that the responsible people be
brought to justice according to the laws of the land.

* Detailed information about Hajji’s ill-treatment while in prison
can be found in the AI report of 11 March 2013:
on page 24-25.


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Septermber Supper Fundraiser

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CPT really needs your support in raising $10k in September. Unfortunately, we are behind our financial targets and need your help. We want to dedicate the month of September to bringing people together around the dinner table. You can choose the date, who you invite and what you cook (though our teams have some great recipes prepared!) We’d love to hear if you’d be interested. 

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