In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Security Camera on Every Corner
In Iraqi Kurdistan businesses can’t get a license unless security cameras are installed. But locals say cameras are unregulated and an invasion of privacy, not to mention they don’t help catch assassins in action.
There is hardly a single street in the semi-autonomous zone of Iraqi Kurdistan where one does not see a raft of security cameras pointed at passers-by. Many of the security cameras are installed by private citizens but in some parts of the region, the security forces responsible for internal regional security, known as the Asayesh, are compelling owners of public buildings and businesses to install them.
Security cameras have been installed on Iraqi Kurdistan’s roads for many years but now the number of public and private security cameras in action is thought to rival camera-per-capita figures for some of the most surveilled cities in the world.
In Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and home to the regional Parliament and other government departments, there are an estimated 8,000 official cameras deployed. The regional Ministry of the Interior plans on erecting another 5,000 cameras on and around main roads in the near future.
Additionally, “anyone who wants to open a store is required to install surveillance cameras or he will not be given permission to open the business,” explains Tariq Nouri, the head of the Asayesh in Erbil. “Companies, restaurants, casinos and residential compounds are all obliged to install security cameras. However owners of private residences can decide for themselves if they wish to do this.”
Additionally, Nouri said, cables for faster Internet are being installed underground, which will make keeping an eye on the various security cameras even easier.
“Surveillance cameras assist us in detecting attacks, especially in crowded areas,” claims Hogir Aziz, the spokesperson for the Erbil police. “We have used the recordings from security cameras after getting court permission.”