“Installing these cameras everywhere is a violation of people’s rights,” he continues. “Anything they do could be used against them. Additionally there is no law here that controls how the cameras are being used.”
There is no single body watching over the security cameras either. Previously the Ministry of the Interior would report to the local parliamentary committee concerned but since Iraqi Kurdistan’s government has not been operating properly for over a year, this has not been happening.
“We don’t know how many cameras there are now because we haven’t had any meetings with the Ministry of the Interior for more than a year,” Ayoub Abdallah, chairman of the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament’s Committee on Internal Affairs, Security and Local Councils, told NIQASH. “These cameras are installed because of security considerations, we are told. But we want to know why there are another 5,000 coming – especially because they are not under our control at all.”
For obvious reasons, the Asayesh refute any criticisms of the security cameras.
“They don’t violate people’s liberties, they protect their lives,” the Erbil Asayesh’s Nouri says.
“The European countries have the most freedom and they too have security cameras,” the Sulaymaniyah Asayesh’s Rahim justifies the cameras. “These cameras are not a violation of personal freedoms. Rather they are a way of maintaining security and stability. That’s not in any way a violation of freedoms.”
Nonetheless the questions from critics remain: If these cameras are so essential to security, then why have they not been used to find the gunmen killing journalists and politicians in what appear to be targeted assassinations?