Assistant judge Hatsyar Wshyar faces up to seven years in prison as new charges have been brought against him, over the same social media posts for which he was sentenced and effectively served a full year prison. Instead of releasing him after his sentence, he remains detained and at risk of being tried again over the same Tweets. The authorities must release Hatsyar Wshyar immediately and unconditionally and drop all charges against him.
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Judge Bengeen Qasim Mohamed Kattany
Head of the Kurdistan Region Judicial Council
c/o Dr. Dindar Zebari
Head of the Committee to Evaluate and Respond to International Reports Email: [email protected]
Assistant judge Hatsyar Wshyar is facing up to seven years in prison after having completed a year’s sentence over the same social media posts criticizing the conduct of certain judges in Sulaymaniyah, a city in the east of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He is currently being charged under article 226 of the Iraqi penal code for “insulting public institutions or officials” in those posts and awaits trial on 7 March 2021. Hatsyar Wshyar was sentenced on 2 December 2019 to a one-year prison term under article 2 of the penal code, after he was charged with “misuse of electronics” in an unfair trial. The charges related to the same social media posts he is being tried for now. His trial in 2019 was in clear violation of fair trial standards; he was sentenced in a closed hearing, after having been denied access to his lawyer and appointed a court lawyer and was not allowed to speak.
Despite having completed his prison sentence on 2 December 2020, Hatsyar Wshyar remains in the custody of the Sulaymaniyah security forces (Asayish). The last time his family saw him was in October 2020. He has only been able to call them three times since then, each time lasting less than one minute. Hatsyar Wshyar was able to see his lawyer on 28 February 2021 for a period of 30 minutes, during which Asayish members were present for the entire duration of the visit. Hatsyar Wshyar’s right to a fair trial and to exercise his freedom of expression have both been violated in 2019, and now he is being prosecuted over the same alleged offense for the second time with ongoing concerns around his right to adequately prepare for his defense. This is in contradiction with Iraq’s obligations under article 38 of the Iraqi Constitution, as well as under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Hatsyar Wshyar, drop all charges against him, and ensure a prompt and effective investigation into the claims of torture made in 2019 with the aim of holding perpetrators accountable and providing him with adequate redress.