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1.3. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities

Last updated: June 2019

In KRI, the Peshmerga, the municipal police and the Asayish are the main security actors of the KRG.

The Peshmerga are the Kurdish armed forces overseen by the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs and are responsible for maintaining order in the KRI. Militias of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are (de facto) also part of the Peshmerga. However, they report to the Ministry of Interior, thereby having both a civilian policing and military function [Actors of protection, 8.1.2; Security situation 2019,].

Municipal police are responsible for traditional civil and traffic enforcement, environmental policing, immigration enforcement and facilities protection. Routine policing, patrols, first response and investigation of minor felonies fall within their responsibilities, along with a range of administrative functions. Emergency police handle major felonies. It is reported that the municipal police remain politically divided along party lines [Actors of protection, 8.1.3].

The Asayish is the intelligence agency of the KRG, responsible for 'domestic security throughout the region'. Within Asayish there are political allegiances between the KDP and the PUK, but the parties also maintained their own intelligence services (KDP: Parastin, PUK: Zanyari). These were unified under the law in 2011, however, they continue to work closely with the Asayish on intelligence gathering operations [Actors of protection, 8.1.4; Security situation 2019,].

Given that persons with an (perceived) affiliation to ISIL are primary targets for all security actors in Iraq, such persons have also been victims of human rights violations by KRG security actors. The Peshmerga and Asayish are accused of arbitrary arrests and carrying out unlawful killings of ISIL suspects. Other reported violations include enforced disappearances, retaliatory violence against Sunni Arab civilians during territorial recapture, intentional demolition of houses. There were also reports that PMU and KRG forces detained children accused of terrorism and subjected them to torture and other forms of ill-treatment. According to available information, abusive interrogations occurred in some detention facilities of the Asayish and the intelligence services of the major political parties. There have been reports that ISIL suspects have been subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment in order to extract confessions [Targeting, 1.1, 1.2.3, 1.18.2].

There have also been reports of pressure and harassment by the KRG of certain ethnic minorities, such as the Shabak and the Yazidi to declare themselves to be Kurds [Targeting, 3.4.3, 3.4.6]. Other allegations against Kurdish authorities refer to the detention of political opponents, the violent suppression of demonstrations, and the harassment of news outlets critical of the KRG leadership, and the killing of journalists [Targeting, 1.1.3, 1.2.3, 1.3.4, 1.11.2; Actors of protection, 8.3].