PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL
DE RUEHKUK #0145/01 2340750
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 220750Z AUG 06
FM REO KIRKUK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0722
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0684
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHKUK/REO KIRKUK 0750
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIRKUK 000145
BAGHDAD FOR POL, POLMIL, NCT, IRMO
E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/21/2016 TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PINS PNAT PREF PREL PTER KDEM IZ SUBJECT: (C) KRG MINISTER OF JUSTICE ON REGIONAL AUTHORITY
REF: KIRKUK 00000135
KIRKUK 00000145 001.2 OF 002
CLASSIFIED BY: Jim Bigus, PRT Leader, POL, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
(C) INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY: Minister of Justice for the KRG, Azad Mullah Affandi, told IPAO on August 8 that in cases of different rulings between the KRG and the federal government, the federal Cassation (Supreme) Court would have no authority over the KRG Court of Cassation on issues of KRG concern, such as oil, but that this would be determined when the issue arose. The KRG President appointed judges at all court levels. The Ministry of Justice would maintain its separation from the judiciary branches in order to prevent past abuses from the Saddam regime. The role of Sharia would be limited to family and personal law, and these trials would have separate courts. Affandi would be the acting Minister of Justice until the KRG Prime Minister officially announced the two KRG Justice Ministries joined. END INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY.
(C) FEDERAL SUPREME COURT CANNOT OVERRIDE KRG COURT
2. (C) KRG Minister of Justice, Azad Izaddin Mullah Affandi, told IPAO on August 8 that President Barzani had accelerated the merger of the two justice systems and that this had been finalized on July 28, 2006. Afandi claimed the federal Cassation (Supreme) Court would not have authority over the KRG Court of Cassation on issues of concern to the KRG, such as oil, but that this issue would be addressed when it arose. For instance, he said, the federal courts could not remove a case from a county court located in the KRG and transfer it to Baghdad. He claimed this was due to past abuses, and said that judicial responsibility for cases would be determined geographically. As an example, Afandi cited the case of an Anbar business man suing a business man from the KRG. The location of this trial, he claimed, would depend on where the problem occurred; the geographic origin and subject of the dispute would determine the location for trial.
(C) KRG PRESIDENT APPOINTS JUDGES AT ALL LEVELS
3. (C) Afandi said the President of the KRG had sole authority to appoint judges at the County, Appellate, and Cassation levels in the Kurdistan region. The role of the Justice Minstry in this procedure, Afandi claimed, was to select prospective individuals for nomination as judges and forward this list of names to the Judiciary Council, headed by the Appeals Court. The Justice Ministry had no formal role after that point. From there, those selected took a written and oral exam to determine their qualifications. Only at that point were nominees recommended to the President who could decide whether or not to select appointments from this list. Afandi claimed according to law appointed judges could not belong to either of the two main parties, but that because of their past, most had party links. Afandi said that separating the Justice Ministry from the judiciary to avoid direct links with the judges was a legacy from the Coalition Provisional Authority and that he agreed with maintaining this system.
(C) ORGANIZATION AND STRUCTURE OF KRG COURTS
4. (C) Since the merger, a new Judiciary Law was submitted to the KNA that established the organization of the courts. He said now there was one KRG Cassation Court where formerly there were two, with a minimum of 6 judges, "although there could be more," with two commissions, one in charge of reviewing appeals, the other "supreme commission" presided by the head of the Cassation Court. The Appellate Court had a minimum of 7 judges, but currently had 15, based in two courts located in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. The Erbil Appellate Court also had jurisdiction over Dahuk; the Sulaymanyah Appellate Court was still called "Kirkuk Appeals Court" due to the fact that it formerly also covered Kirkuk but now "actively covered" Sulaymaniyah. (Note: Post learned on July 24 that Asayish were transferring suspected prisoners from Kirkuk to Sulaymaniyah for trial (Reftel. Kirkuk 00000135). End note.) There were 3 County Courts in Erbil, 2 in Dahuk, and 2 in Sulaymaniyah; Affandi said that all districts and most sub-districts also had a court.
(C) SHARIA LIMITED TO FAMILY LAW
5. (C) Afandi said the role of sharia in the KRG justice system would be limited to family and personal law, which was based on
KIRKUK 00000145 002.2 OF 002
local custom. He said family law courts were separate from the justice system courts, but that county court judges tried these cases and were subject to the same Justice Ministry regulations, such as a minimum of 10 years' work experience as a judge. This last regulation, he claimed, was to check possible legal abuses that might develop in family and personal law from Muslim legal jurists who had not received the proper formal training.
(C) BIOGRAPHIC NOTES
6. (C) Azad Izaddin Mullah Affandi: Acting Minister for Justice in the unified KRG; appointed "Minster of State for Justice" as part of the merger agreement on May 7, 2006; born in Erbil, 1949; was in the previous KRG-Erbil cabinet as Minister for Agriculture from 2004 to 2006.
7. (C) Azad Mullah Affandi is acting as the Minister for Justice until the KRG Prime Minister, Nechrivan Barzani (KDP), issues a declaration that the two ministries are officially joined, which he has not even though the ministries were joined on July 28. As part of the unification agreement, Faruq Jamil Sadiq, from the PUK KRG-Sulaymaniyah, will become the official Minister of Justice. The Ministry of Justice was one of the four most sensitive cabinet posts under discussion during the merger talks, the others being Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, and Ministry of Finance. The hard line on KRG judicial authority over federal courts may or may not change once the new Minister is appointed, depending on the new Minister's position on such issues. Post is working to meet with the PUK Minister of Justice to ascertain his position on this subject. The current position of the Justice Ministry that all trials involving issues of KRG concern be tried in KRG courts, and that the KRG Court of Cassation overruled the federal courts, likely will cause endless disputes over conflicting jurisdiction claims, and lead other regions to demand the same rights for their own court systems. JBIGUS