Federal court 'overstepped' jurisdiction

Kurdistan Region’s judicial council responds to Iraqi federal court verdicts

ERBIL — Abduljabbar Aziz Hassan, President of the Judicial Council of the Kurdistan Region, issued a formal statement today in reaction to recent rulings by the Iraqi Federal Court, escalating the response from the Kurdistan Regional Government to perceived challenges to its autonomy.

The statement follows the resignation of Judge Abdulrahman Suleiman Zebari, a Kurdish member of the Federal Court, who cited the court’s decisions and his inability to effectively represent the Kurdistan Region’s interests as his reasons for stepping down.

Hassan’s remarks come amid heightened tensions between Erbil and Baghdad, with the KRG, especially the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), viewing the Federal Court’s actions as attempts to undermine the region’s autonomy. “The Federal Court has overstepped its legal jurisdiction,” Hassan noted, pointing to the court’s intervention in matters he believes should fall within the region’s authority.

One of the court’s most controversial decisions involved dissolving the quota seat of the Kurdistan Parliament and reducing the number of seats to one hundred. Hassan argued, “This decision blatantly contradicts the Constitution, as it alters the Kurdistan Parliament’s seats and the 2007 Law No. 11 of the Independent High Electoral Commission regarding electoral district allocations, which are clearly within the Kurdistan Parliament’s authority and have no direct relation to the Federal Court.”

On the anniversary of the March 11 agreement KRG PM Masrour Barzani highlighted “the importance of safeguarding the constitutional rights of the Kurdish people and the constitutional framework of the Kurdistan Region.” He affirmed, “the Kurdish people would not allow their rights to be violated and refused to return to a period of dictatorship and unilateralism,” indicating the region’s resolve to maintain its autonomy and rights.

KDP leader and former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani recalled the March 11 agreement as a milestone in securing Kurdish rights within Iraq. He emphasized the ongoing struggle for these rights, stating, “the struggle continues.”

The March 11 agreement, signed in 1970, was a landmark accord between the Iraqi government and Kurdish representatives, aiming to end years of conflict by granting autonomy to the Kurdish region within Iraq. This short-lived agreement recognized Kurdish rights, including language, education, and administrative autonomy.

The Judicial Council’s statement also addressed constitutional protections for the Kurdistan Region, noting, “The 2005 Constitution further affirmed the Kurdistan Region’s autonomy, granting it powers beyond those exclusively reserved for the federal government.” It underscored that any powers not explicitly defined within the federal exclusive powers fall under the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Region and stressed, “the Constitution prohibits amendments to constitutional articles under any pretext, emphasizing that all entities, including the Federal Court, must adhere to it without causing disputes or violations under the guise of illegitimacy.”

Hassan criticized the Federal Court for arrogating the right to intervene in all regional matters, particularly its decision to annul quota seats of the Kurdistan parliament. He pointed out, “A close examination of this decision clearly shows it to be in violation of the Constitution under which it operates since the Constitution grants primacy to the laws of the Kurdistan Region in cases where there is a conflict with federal laws.”

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