Iraq: UNAMI Focus - Voice of the Mission Bulletin May 2007

News and Press Release
Originally published


SRSG Activities

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Ashraf Qazi met Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari immediately before Zebari left for a regional tour in preparation for the Sharm al-Sheikh meetings, which took place from 2 to 4 May 2007. He also met with the Minister of Human Rights Ms Wijdan Mikha'il and discussed with her the 10th UNAMI Human Rights report. SRSG Qazi discussed the selection process for the new Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) commissioners with Deputy Speaker Khalid Attiyya. He received Council of Representatives member Maysoon Al-Damluji concerning proposed constitutional amendments by Al-Iraqiya Bloc and women's NGOs. He held discussions with President Talabani's Chief of Staff, Mr Kamran Karadawi and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani's senior adviser Mr. Rowsch Shaways on the current political situation and the implementation of article 140 in particular. SRSG Qazi participated by videoconference in the Secretary General's Iraq Policy Group;s meeting and held teleconference with the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe, Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar and Special Adviser to SG Ibrahim Gambari on preparations for the forthcoming International Compact launch in Sharm Al-Sheikh on 3 May 2007.

SRSG Qazi and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq (DSRSG) Jean-Marie Fakhouri attended the UNHCR conference "Addressing the Humanitarian Needs of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons inside Iraq and in Neighbouring Countries" held in Geneva 17-18 April 2007. In Geneva, he held discussions with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Head of the Iraqi Red Crescent, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as US State Department officials and NGOs. On return to Baghdad, he met with Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashemi, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, Planning Minister Ali Baban and Dr. Ayad Samarai, head of the Constitutional Review's political committee. On 10 April, SRSG met with Hachem

Al Hassani, member of the Baghdad Security Plan political committee to discuss the progress of the plan, political outreach, the government's legislative agenda and concerns over Kirkuk.

On 11 April he met two members of Al-Tawafuk bloc who presented a report on conditions in Camp Bucca detention facility and requested UN assistance in seeking an urgent revision in Multinational Forces in Iraq (MNF-I) and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) detention policies.

SRSG hosted the visit of the Secretary-General's Special Adviser Mr. Ibrahim Gambari from 5 to 8 April and accompanied him in discussions with the President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, both Vice-Presidents Tariq Al-Hashemi and Adel Abdel Mahdi, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, Planning Minister Ali Baban, Government Spokesman Ali Dabbagh and meetings with senior members of the diplomatic community. The visit culminated in a briefing for the international community at the Prime Minister's residence with the announcement of the launch meeting for the International Compact with Iraq at Shaam Al-Sheikh, Egypt on 3 May. In addition, SRSG had separate meetings with United Iraqi Allaiance (UIA) leader Abdul Aziz Hakim and National Security Adviser Muafak Al-Rubaie in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister. He held discussions with newly arrived US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and attended a joint meeting with the Italian Ambassador Melani (Italy Co-Chair), EU and World Bank representatives to discuss the establishment of secretariat for IRFFI and the Compact.

UNAMI 10th Report on Human Rights in Iraq

UNAMI issued its 10 report on human rights situation in Iraq on 25 April, 2007. The report, which was launched in a press conference held at the mission's headquarters in Baghdad, covers the period from 1 January to 31 March 2007. Large-scale indiscriminate killings and targeted assassinations continue to impede efforts to bring lasting stability and security to Iraq, according to the report.

The report expresses UNAMI's concerns over rampant violations of human rights standards by insurgency and various armed groups, and recognizes that these crimes have targeted civilians, law enforcement personnel and government employees. In such an enormously challenging environment, the Iraqi Government has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to protect human rights in line with its international and national obligations. Despite progress cited in the report, it also notes frequent failures of the Iraqi rule of law institutions to protect the life and dignity of all Iraqis in a manner that conforms to the international humanitarian and human rights laws.

These incidents are highlighted in order to help the Iraqi authorities at all levels identify areas where further efforts must

be made and where the United Nations and international community remain ready to assist the Iraqi Government. The protection and promotion of human rights for all Iraqis must be the foundation of the Government's national reconciliation efforts.

Unlike previous reports, the new UNAMI Quarterly Human Rights report does not contain official statistics of violent deaths regularly gathered by the Ministry of Health and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad. This is because the Iraqi Government decided not to make such data available to UNAMI. This is a matter of regret because UNAMI reports have been regarded as a credible source of information regarding developments in the human rights situation in Iraq. UNAMI will continue to speak with the Iraqi authorities and urge them to provide the necessary information, collected by the Ministry of Health and the Medico-Legal Institute.

With regard to the ongoing Baghdad Security Plan (BSP), the report states, "The challenges facing the Government of Iraq are not limited to addressing the level of violence in the country, but also the longer term maintenance of stability and security in an environment characterized by impunity, a breakdown in law and order." UNAMI is concerned that large numbers of Iraqis, among them professional groups and law enforcement personnel, continued to experience intimidation and killings. It also notes continued political interference in the affairs of the judiciary, a matter in need of urgent attention.

The Report describes the deterioration of the freedom of expression affecting, media and media workers, religious and ethnic minorities, professional-groups including academics who are continuously targeted by religious extremists and armed groups in all areas of Iraq. It outlines the key human rights concerns relating to detention and internment, lack of judicial oversight and treatment of detainees and prisoners and expresses UNAMI's concern over the apparent lack of judicial guarantees in the handling of suspects arrested in the context of the BSP.

On displacements the report states, "According to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 736,422 persons were forced to flee their homes due to sectarian violence and military operations since the bombing of the Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra' on 22 February 2006. Of these, more than 200,000 were displaced since December 2006. Together with 1.2 million IDPs displaced prior to 22 February 2006, they are in need of continuous assistance, including shelter and improved access to the Public Distribution System (PDS)."