Foreign AffairsSupplementary written evidence from David Mepham, UK Director, Human Rights Watch

The additional information the Committee requested from us.


Khodorkovsky—when his second trial was ongoing, HRW signed on to/published several letters arguing why the second case against him was clearly politically motivated. (press release: ( Last year HRW co-sponsored an event to draw attention to his case. We flag his case as characteristic of the Kremlin’s determination to eliminate powerful political alternatives.

You should also be aware of the case of Sergei Guriyev, the Russian academic, who’s left the country to stay in France after Russia’s prosecutor’s office and Investigative Committee started questioning him repeatedly and asked for his emails of the past five years. Guriyev is being pursued in connection with the role he played as one of the independent experts, asked by then-President Medvedev to assess Khodorskovsky’s second trial.

Iraqi Kurdistan

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) parliament passed a law, the Family Violence Law, in June of 2011. It bans FGM and requires the government to implement measures to prevent domestic violence, including by establishing special courts for domestic violence cases in Sulaimaniyya, Erbil and Duhok. It also requests that victims of domestic violence be compensated and that there should be an increase in the number of female police officers and the creation of shelters for those who have suffered from domestic violence. Domestic violence remains ubiquitous in Kurdistan; men routinely beat and rape their wives, partners and daughters with impunity. Moreover, stigma against divorce and the absence of state-sponsored protection mechanisms means that many women remained trapped in abusive marriages and households.

Human Rights Watch, local human rights groups and other international organisations have advocated for implementation of the law’s FGM ban and successfully raised awareness of the problem. However, to date, the KRG has largely ignored its responsibilities with regard to the 2011 law’s domestic violence provisions. HRW recently met with two leading women’s advocacy group in Kurdistan who said the government has failed to implement the law’s domestic violence provisions due to a “lack of political commitment and legal interest, and administrative malaise”. They said passage of the Amnesty Law in 2012 had freed many people convicted of killing women and other violence against women.

Local organisations also told HRW that despite their advocacy with KRG authorities to ensure that family members cannot infiltrate shelters or pressure women to return to abuse environments, family members still frequently harass women in shelters and women are remain afraid to press charges against abusive family members.

Human Rights Watch has documented two recent cases of honour killings in the past couple of months, where the government has still not investigated or held family members that committed the killings accountable.

In a November 2012, we met with Ismat Argushi, the director of the KRG’s security forces, who are officially tasked with supporting the Kurdish police, by educating them about the new law and helping them to implement it. Argushi said that the security forces’ procedures for responding to domestic violence had not changed since the passage of the law, and that security forces use the same (unspecified) methods they used before the law’s passage to gather information on domestic violence cases and to share this information with police. Argushi was unaware of protection mechanisms available to survivors.

Human Rights Watch believes that the FCO and the UK government should pressure KRG authorities, especially the Ministries of Justice, Interior, and Labor and Social Affairs, to establish a court for domestic violence cases, hire additional female police officers, and create additional shelters.. To the extent that they provide direct assistance to KRG authorities, they should link this assistance to the implementation of these provisions. They should also consider providing direct assistance to local civil society organisations who work to support shelters and provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, and who are frequently harassed by authorities for doing so.

These links may also be useful (report) (press release)

1 July 2013

Prepared 15th October 2013