Iraq / Iraqi Kurdistan - annual report 2015

Representatives of the Kurdish delegation from Iraq with the experts Wolfram Eberhard (to the left), judge, ret. at Berlin-Tiergarten Local Court, and Karl Peter Puszkajler (to the right), judge, ret. at Munich Higher Regional Court, as well as the IRZ's project manager for North Africa and the Middle East, Patrick Schneider (3rd from right)
Representatives of the Kurdish delegation from Iraq with the experts Wolfram Eberhard (to the left), judge, ret. at Berlin-Tiergarten Local Court, and Karl Peter Puszkajler (to the right), judge, ret. at Munich Higher Regional Court, as well as the IRZ's project manager for North Africa and the Middle East, Patrick Schneider (3rd from right)

Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

The political and economic starting situation for Iraqi Kurdistan worsened in 2015. With a population of approx. 8 million, Kurdistan offers a refuge for roughly 850,000 internally-displaced Iraqis and about 250,000 Syrian civil war refugees. At the same time, economic development which had been undergoing sustained improvement, suffered considerable losses, particularly as a result of developments in international oil prices, political differences with the central Government in Bagdad concerning the extraction of oil, as well as domestic political crises. Military conflicts with the "Islamic State" cost further considerable resources, albeit domestic security was maintained, particularly in comparison to the rest of Iraq, even though there was a heightened potential terrorist threat.

Overall concept

The IRZ continued its support of the Kurdish Ministry of Justice in the development of a new Law on Civil Enforcement in 2015. The initiative, taken up at the end of 2012 at the request of the Kurdish Government, aims to systematise the economically- and historically-outdated provisions of the existing (Central Iraqi) Law on Civil Enforcement and to reform it in such a way that it takes account of modern economic and social developments. The lack of protection of creditors' interests in the Law and in practice is equivalent to a major obstacle to investment, which is why the reform of the Law on Civil Enforcement conversely constitutes a major prerequisite for investment-friendly economic development.

The work that has been carried out to date on the draft of a new Law on Civil Enforcement led in 2015 to a completely reformed legal draft. On the Kurdish side, senior representatives of the Kurdish judicial administration, of the Parliamentary Legal Committee and of the Schura Council, which advises the Ministry of Justice, took part in this consultation.

Outlook

The reform draft, which was drawn up with support from the IRZ, is currently being debated in Kurdish judicial and parliamentary circles. The results of the consultation and continued discussions will show whether the IRZ is to continue to operate in the Kurdistan/Iraq region in the field of civil enforcement law or in other legal fields.

Iraq - annual report 2014

Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

Whilst a fresh wave of violence swept Central Iraq in 2014 with increasing numbers of assassinations, attacks and victims among the civilian population, the security situation in Iraqi Kurdistan remained largely stable in 2014. This is the case despite the growing military influence of the “Islamic State”, which came as a surprise for many. Its military advance and atrocities have not ultimately managed to bring civil life to a standstill in Iraqi Kurdistan or even to significantly impede it. Because of this, one may continue to anticipate a relatively stable development.

Overall concept

The IRZ has supported the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities in recent years by organising study trips for members of the judiciary within the “EUJUSTLEX-IRAQ” EU Rule of Law Mission, which was concluded in December 2013. For the continued cooperation, however, new approaches have now arisen in the areas of civil law and civil procedure law.

The abovementioned ongoing economic growth in the Kurdistan Region led amongst other things to a considerable need for modernisation in legislation and in the administration. A particularly relevant field in this context is coercive execution. The statutory basis is out of date, and official enforcement suffers from considerable shortcomings. This ultimately hinders investment to a degree which should not be underestimated. Reliable prospects that a claim can be recovered through the courts or public authorities constitute an essential criterion for assessing legal certainty on the part of potential investors. Aware of this fact, at the end of 2012, the Kurdish Ministry of Justice requested the German Consulate General in Arbil to help procure German support for the reform of the law on coercive execution in Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2013, the IRZ drafted a comprehensive proposal for reform, together with representatives of the Kurdish authorities, which was further refined in 2014. A particular challenge in this context was the more or less customised adaptation to the actual Kurdish situation. This was by no means an exercise of legal theory, but an area in which experience, empathy, knowledge of local conditions, as well as ultimately also experience in legislation are needed. As an example of the problems found, it can be mentioned that because of cultural and religious situations, bailiffs are not necessarily able to enter a house which is exclusively reserved for women. Other challenges relate to the out-of-date law itself. For instance, under the ideology of strict debtor protection, it regulates against the legitimate interests of creditors. A coercive execution procedure can be extended practically indefinitely, enabling debtors to quietly put existing assets to one side.

Focus of activity in 2014

Civil and commercial law

  • Further drafting and refining of the reform proposal on the law on coercive execution in cooperation with representatives of the authorities

Outlook

The consultation services will be continued and ended at the beginning of 2015. The IRZ will continue to accompany the reform process within the possibilities that are available. This particularly relates to areas which also require renewal in the course of the reform of the law on coercive execution. This includes for instance a service instruction for bailiffs, training for civil law enforcement officials on the basis of the new regulations, or the revision of provisions of family law in the field of parental custody and access rights.

Iraq - annual report 2013

Advisory activities on the reform of the Kurdish Coercive Execution Act: German and Kurdish experts in discussion
Advisory activities on the reform of the Kurdish Coercive Execution Act: German and Kurdish experts in discussion

General – Conceptual orientation

Legal policy starting point

Whilst a fresh wave of violence swept Central Iraq in 2013 with increasing numbers of assassinations, attacks and victims among the civilian population, the security situation in Iraqi Kurdistan remained largely stable. This fact has had a major positive influence on economic development, which the Kurdish Government is promoting heavily. Particularly also referring to the security situation, the Kurdish authorities are promoting Iraqi Kurdistan as "the new Iraq".

Cooperation to date

The IRZ has supported the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities in recent years by organising study visits for members of the judiciary within the "EUJUSTLEX-IRAQ" EU Rule of Law Mission, which was concluded in December 2013. For the continued cooperation, however, new approaches have now arisen in the areas of civil law and civil procedure law. The ongoing economic growth in the Kurdistan Region led amongst other things to a considerable need for modernisation in legislation and in the administration. A particularly relevant field in this context is coercive execution. The statutory basis is out of date, and official enforcement suffers from considerable shortcomings. This ultimately hinders investment to a degree which should not be underestimated. Reliable prospects that a claim can be recovered through the courts or public authorities constitute an essential criterion for assessing legal certainty on the part of potential investors.

Major partners

  • Ministry of Justice of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan Coercive execution authorities of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan

Strategy and method

At the end of 2012, the Kurdish Ministry of Justice requested the German Consulate General in Arbil to help procure German support for the reform of the law on coercive execution in Iraqi Kurdistan. The work, which already commenced in 2012 and is funded by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA), was continued in 2013. Two German experts with many decades of professional experience drafted a new version of the statutory provisions in the capital of Arbil, together with the Kurdish Ministry of Justice, coercive execution authorities and Parliament. During two intensive working visits to the region, and prepared by expert reports drawn up in Germany, German and Kurdish legal experts discussed both the underlying philosophy of coercive state measures and their practical implementation. In order to obtain a realistic impression of the circumstances in the region, they also attended several coercive executions and visited areas outside the capital. The project is planned to be completed in 2014 with a redraft of the law on coercive execution.

Foci of activity in 2013

Civil and commercial law

  • Two expert visits to the capital of Arbil
  • One month of work on the draft of a reformed Coercive Execution Act by experts in Germany