Baghdad, 21 March 2019 – On 18 March 2019, the Senior Deputy Minister of the Interior, Dr Aqeel Al-Khazaali endorsed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Criminal Investigations. These internal regulations for criminal investigations are meant to make crime management more reliable and efficient. The adoption of the SOP on Criminal Investigation aligns with the implementation of the Local Police Service Road Map also recently adopted by the Ministry.
The SOP had been prepared for over a year by an internal ministerial criminal justice committee and an interdisciplinary working group consistent of interior ministry officials, representatives of the Higher Judicial Council, the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the National Security Advisor and with technical assistance from the security sector programme of UNDP. The SOP allows a unified criminal justice approach in Iraq and is meant to become the governing practice to conduct criminal investigations in an effective and proactive manner. Its purpose is to raise the performance of the police in investigations and make their professional actions in criminal investigations more accountable to investigating judges; also to make the evidence produced during their investigations more likely to be credible in further judicial proceedings. The SOP requires various departments of the Ministry of the Interior, in particular the Patrol Police, local police stations, the Anti-Crime Section, the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Agency (FIIA) and the Criminal Forensic Directorate to cooperate while respective police investigators shall take up lead responsibilities.
As the Senior Deputy Minister of the Interior Dr Aqeel Al-Khazaali writes in the foreword of the SOP: “Being committed to follow this SOP will enhance our national security status both directly and indirectly by countering all types of crime. Such a response from the police will also be well noted by the public. The Ministry of the Interior highly recognises the importance of public trust in police conduct which entails the cooperation of citizens by providing information to solve crimes.”
The head of the criminal justice committee of the MoI, Major General Ziad Taha Ali Al-Abbasi added that “with the introduction of the SOP the police assume a key role in the investigative process which puts the police in the position to implement warrants and directives from investigating judges based on agreed standards of practice.”
“To become truly effective, the SOP will require general acceptance and the increased capacity of police departments that play key roles in criminal investigations. All major departments involved in investigations must raise their level of skills and be ready to streamline practices to be able to meet the requirements of the SOP,” stated Andreas Kirsch-Wood, Senior Criminal Justice Advisor of UNDP who participated in the expert group meetings and advised the Interior Ministry, the judiciary and other stakeholders during the SOP drafting process.
UNDP-Iraq reaffirmed its commitment to the members of the ministerial criminal justice committee and the interdisciplinary working group to continue its support to make the implementation of the SOP a potent instrument to fight crimes. Since many police directorates and departments will be directly affected by changes in the investigative process, operation plans must be adapted, equipment reviewed and added, and training be conducted for lead investigators, operation room duty officers, major incident managers, first responders and others. Many other international partners have expressed an interest in this area of work.
UNDP is grateful to Germany and Denmark for their generous funding to carry out this important work in Iraq.