The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Head of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir yesterday met with the Head of the European Union’s Rule of Law Mission for Iraq and they inaugurated the mission’s permanent office in Erbil.
At a press conference after their meeting Minister Bakir and Mr Francisco Diaz Alcantud provided information about the European Union’s Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq, which is known as EUJUST LEX, and officially announced the mission’s Erbil office which was opened last year.
Minister Bakir said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is committed to the rule of law “to ensure a professional judicial system and to strengthen the democratic experience in the Region.” He commended Mr Alcantud for EUJUST LEX’s support and engagement with the KRG in its efforts to strengthen the rule of law. He said, “We are pleased to host any EUJUST LEX training course for all of Iraq within the Kurdistan Region because we want this opportunity to benefit all Iraqis.”
Minister Bakir added that the KRG is ready to provide any support to ensure that EUJUST LEX’s mission is successful. He also highlighted that the relevant KRG bodies are already working closely with the EUJUST LEX team to implement their projects in the Region—those being the Ministries of the Interior, Labour and Social Affairs, Justice and Planning, the Department of Foreign Relations and the Judicial Council. He said, “These programmes will have a great impact on the law enforcement authorities. The mission is in line with existing KRG human resources development programmes, and we are committed to a long-term relationship with this mission.”
Mr Alcantud said “The EU member states think that one of the most important points to allow the progress and development of a free country is an effective rule of law system.” He stated that the mission’s main goal is to improve human rights by helping to establish such a system in Iraq. The mission is called an integrated one because it provides a comprehensive approach to implementing the Rule of Law by offering training programmes that bring together middle and top level officials from the police, judiciary and penal system, he said.
The EUJUST LEX programme for Iraq began in July 2005. Mr Alcantud said that although the mission has had some representation in the Kurdistan Region since July 2010, it now intends to shift most of the training courses from Europe to inside Iraq. Training facilities in the Kurdistan Region will be used, while some specialised courses will still be run in Europe.
The mission has trained almost 4,000 Iraqi officials so far, of which 1,800 were police, 900 judges, and 1,100 prison workers. Just over 1,000 of the trainees have been from within the KRG. Mr Alcantud said that the mission wants to increase its training and other operations for the remainder of its current mandate, which ends in June 2012.