Baghdad, 12 April 2021 - After 3 years of fruitful collaboration between UN-Habitat Iraq and the Ministry of Justice of Iraq, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the support of the Prime Minister of Iraq, and under the patronage of Mr. Salar Abdul Sattar Muhammad, Minister of Justice.
The MOU aims to strengthen the cooperation between UN-Habitat and Ministry of Justice through joint efforts to secure and protect land tenure rights, and to facilitate the registration of ownership rights as one of the most critical durable solutions for Yazidis in Sinjar district. Additionally, the MOU strives to seek and explore potential solutions and legal approaches with respect to ownership rights and documentation, and remedy the effects resulting from the destruction of documents in the city of Mosul.
Yazidis in Sinjar area face major challenges in proving their ownership or occupancy land rights, particularly where official documents are missing, damaged, destroyed, or in the absence of cadastral and registry information and maps delineating land and property to prove ownership or occupancy rights. Addressing and resolving Yazidi land rights would mark a major step towards respecting human rights and reconciliation.
UN-Habitat has been addressing land rights of Yazidi minorities in Sinjar area since 2016, immediately after the area was liberated from ISIL. The agency is implementing a programme titled “Support to Housing, Land and Property Rights for IDPs in Nineveh” which aims to facilitate the sustainable return and focuses on vulnerable IDPs from minorities (Yazidis) whose access to Housing, Land and Property (HLP) rights has been denied for decades by a legacy of discriminatory policies and practices against Yazidis, as well as by recent violent conflict.
UN-Habitat is registering and mapping land claims by Yazidi returnees, supporting the verification of their claim among themselves, and issuing “Occupancy Certificates” that are endorsed by local authorities and community representatives. The issuance of occupancy certificates by UN-Habitat is a first step toward the final registration of Yazidis land rights in Iraq.
More than 7,600 Occupancy Certificates have been distributed to Yazidis returnees so far, recognizing their occupancy rights for the first time in modern history. UN-Habitat is also liaising closely with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Iraqi Ministry of Justice to endorse a legal decree to formalize the recognition of land rights and upgrade the occupancy certificates to full “Land Ownership Titles”.
Mr. Ahmed Luebi, Director General of the Department for Justice Affairs in the Ministry of Justice, stated that the signing of the MOU with UN-Habitat is necessary to ensure the sustainable return of the displaced people and the right of Yazidis to own land in Sinjar, which is considered one of the most important areas in Iraq. Further, he outlined that the MOU was drafted with the support of Prime Minister and the efforts of the Minister of Justice, Judge Salar Abdul Sattar Muhammed.
Wael Al-Ashhab, Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, emphasized that the signing of MOU is as result of great collaboration with Ministry of Justice which is our main counterpart in our journey to facilitate the registration of Yazidis land rights. UN-Habitat will continue to support MOJ to finalize the registration of Yazidis land rights and additional support will be provided to Real Estate Registration Office in Mosul by building capacity on housing, land and property related issues.
For more information, please contact:
Aryan Star Muheddin
Communications Specialist, UN-Habitat
Mobile number: +964 (0)751 103 9494