AP photo of Erbil airport
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—A lawyer and member of Kurdistan Region’s attorneys syndicate says that Iraq has violated the constitution and the Chicago Aviation Convention with its flight ban on the Kurdish region and punitive measures taken against the referendum.
Faisal Saud Mahata told Rudaw that the circumstances in which Iraq has imposed a flight ban do not match is outlined in the Chicago Aviation Convention to which Baghdad is a signatory.
“The treaty says you can halt flights only in certain circumstances, for example if there is conflict in part of the country,” Saud Mahata said. “There’s no war in Iraqi airspace or here.”
“Also a country can ban flights in a certain part only for security reasons,” he added. “But that’s conditional and says that the ban should not be discriminatory against one airline or another. Iraq now maintains its own airlines and flights between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.”
The lawyer suggested that “Those countries and airlines can and are entitled to take Iraq to court over banning their flights. They’re protected by the Chicago agreement.”
All international flights to and from Erbil were suspended Friday evening on orders from the Iraqi government as punishment for the Kurdish independence referendum of last Monday.
Saud Mahata also believes that Iraq has violated the constitution by taking such punitive measures against Erbil through the parliament. That is the job of the federal court to solve, he said.
“There’s something in Iraq called the federal court which is to arbitrate and solve disputes between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq according to Article 93,” he explained.
He went on to say that “The Kurdish parliament should condemn and protest all the measures taken by Baghdad which Baghdad itself calls “punitive measures”. The law says that you cannot punish anyone without proven crime. So, have we committed any crime?”
Saud Mahata said that the Iraqi law gives people the freedom to express their opinion through such thing as a referendum and therefore the measures taken against Erbil are unlawful.
“Article 5 of Iraq’s own constitution says that people are the authority. Wasn’t it 92 percent of people who voted Yes on September 25?” he asked.
“The referendum was a mere tool to express an opinion,” he maintained. “It isn’t separation from Iraq and we’re still part of Iraq. And since we’re part of Iraq, we’ve the right to protest the decrees of the parliament through the federal court.”