Lawyers banned from holding press conferences in front of courts in Kurdistan Region

Shkoi Kurdistan-

The Kurdistan Region’s Public Prosecutor’s Office made a ruling on Monday that lawyers cannot hold press conferences in front of the courthouses after decisions have been made during an ongoing trial, over concerns the publicity may affect the process of trials. 

Attorney Harem Rafaat criticized the ruling on Wednesday, telling Shkoi Kurdistan he will not abide by the ban and calling it “illegal.”

“We have impacted the trial process in a positive way through the media, especially when we felt some cases were becoming derailed and biased,” Rafaat said.

After making the ruling on Monday, the prosecutor’s office sent it to the Kurdistan Lawyers’ Syndicate to inform its members. The office asked the syndicate to take administrative and legal measures against lawyers who speak to the media in front of the court on the grounds they will leak confidential information. 

The new decision also claims press conferences held at the court could incite the public to protest against the court and affect the process of trials.

Haval Abdullah Barzanji, the deputy secretary of the syndicate, told Shkoi Kurdistan on Wednesday the ban is in accordance with the law, which prevents lawyers from discussing confidential court matters.

“A lawyer is different from a normal person and is familiar with laws, and the disclosure of investigations and information that may harm the investigation and the trial,” Barzanji said. He added, if a lawyer did reveal sensitive information, the syndicate will take measures against the attorney.

He said there are two types of penalties for lawyers who do not abide by the new ruling. They can either receive a warning with six months suspension or they could face a suspension of up to three years with a confiscation of their legal IDs.
Lawyers representing clients in controversial or famous trials, like that of the journalists and activists who have been held for months despite local and international criticism, regularly hold press conferences in front of courts. They explain the trial processes or criticize rulings. 

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