Iraq

Iraq: Human Rights Report, 01 Jan - 30 Jun 2009

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I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. UNAMI engages in the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law in close collaboration with the Government of Iraq and non-governmental sectors, in accordance with its mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1830 (2008) to "promote the protection of human rights and judicial and legal reform in order to strengthen the rule of law in Iraq." To that end, UNAMI monitors the human rights situation in Iraq and assists, especially through its capacity-building activities, in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of state and civil society institutions. It collaborates closely with local human rights groups and seeks to maintain direct contact with victims and witnesses of human rights violations.

2. The human rights reports published by UNAMI and OHCHR are intended to assist the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in ensuring the protection of basic human rights and respect for the rule of law. Iraq remains bound by both its international treaty obligations and its domestic legislation in taking measures to curb violence and promote and protect human rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is clear on the basic rights to be protected at all times, including in time of war and civil disturbances. UNAMI remains committed to assisting the Iraqi authorities in order to achieve these objectives, and to providing capacity building and training programmes for the governmental and non-governmental sectors.

3. The first half of 2009 was characterized by further improvements in the security situation with fewer high-visibility mass-casualty attacks by militias, insurgents and criminal groups than recorded in 2008. However, notwithstanding the reduction in the number of attacks, indiscriminate attacks as well as targeted killings of security forces, high ranking officials and civil servants, religious and political leaders, members of professional groups such as journalists, educators, medical doctors, judges and lawyers continued to claim lives throughout the reporting period. Numerous reports indicated an increased number of attacks directed at persons based on their perceived sexual orientation. Violence against women and "honour"-related homicides also remained to be of serious concern, as particularly reported in the KRG where, despite the efforts by legislators, many crimes went unpunished

4. UNAMI and OHCHR expressed, both publicly and in direct communication with relevant Iraqi authorities, concern regarding the decision by the Government of Iraq to resume the implementation of the death penalty. UNAMI received reports that 31 death row inmates were executed during the reporting period, including one woman. OHCHR and UNAMI are concerned that the Iraqi criminal justice system does not provide sufficient fair trial guarantees and calls upon the Government of Iraq to immediately take necessary measures to ensure its compliance with the relevant articles of the ICCPR as well as UN General Assembly resolution 62/149 requesting states that have not abolished the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions.

5. Significant progress remains to be achieved to fully restore the rule of law and to systematically address the issue of impunity. UNAMI has continuously stated that security in Iraq may not be sustainable unless significant steps are taken to uphold the rule of law and human rights and has continued to offer assistance to this end.

6. The situation in prisons and detention centres remains a major concern to UNAMI. At the end of the reporting period, the Ministry of Human Rights reported that 40,737 individuals remained in detention under the custody of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) and the Multi-National Force in Iraq (MNF-I). Additionally, 2,863 individuals were detained in the KRG bringing the number of detainees to 43, 600. UNAMI continued to raise concerns about the conditions of detainees, many of whom have been deprived of their liberty for months or even years without charges or trials, as well as overcrowding in detention centres run by the Government of Iraq and the KRG. UNAMI also remains concerned about violations of the minimum standards of due process, as many have not had access to judicial review of pre-trial detention, defense counsel, or formally charged with a crime.

7. UNAMI continued to receive credible reports of allegations of torture and ill-treatment occurring during pre-trial detention in Iraqi detention facilities. UNAMI also received reports of ill-treatment in detention facilities in the KRG and has requested all relevant authorities to urgently investigate all such cases. The Iraq-United States Bilateral Security Agreement came into effect on 1 January 2009. The agreement provides for the release or transfer of MNF-I-held detainees to Iraqi custody. UNAMI called upon both parties to implement the agreement in strict compliance with human rights norms and standards.

8. As MNF-I transferred the security responsibility for Camp Ashraf to the Government of Iraq, UNAMI reminded all parties about their obligations towards its residents, including to respect and ensure the full range of human rights (including guarantees of due process for those accused of committing crimes), and to refrain from forcible expulsion or repatriation of the residents in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement.

9. UNAMI continued its efforts in supporting the Government of Iraq and non-governmental organizations through its capacity-building activities. These activities aim at helping the development of an Iraqi owned and led human rights protection system. UNAMI held workshops on how to mainstream human rights into the work of the Ministries of Interior and Defense. With its partners in the UNCT, UNAMI designed and implemented a number of projects, including providing technical assistance for the review of the Government of Iraq before the Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review that will take place in February 2010, the establishment of an Independent High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), the establishment of protection frameworks for children, journalists and human rights defenders, and providing training and equipment for experts at the Ministry of Human Rights for the exhumation of mass graves.

10. UNAMI deployed human rights officers to field offices to strengthen its capacity to monitor and promote human rights throughout Iraq. In addition to its presence in Erbil, during the month of May UNAMI deployed human rights staff to Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk.