Iraq’s human rights progress in question as violence takes its toll: UN Report
BAGHDAD / GENEVA (27 June 2013) – “Despite some progress, human rights in Iraq are under further threat from mounting violence”, says the UN on the release of its latest Report on Human Rights in Iraq.
The report, published by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), provides an overview of the human rights situation in Iraq from 1 July to 31 December 2012. Of primary concern is the upturn in armed violence. At least 3,238 civilians were killed and 10,379 injured in 2012 in a worrying reversal of the trend that had seen violence decline in recent years.
“The return to high casualty figures means that much more needs to be done to protect civilians,” said Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq. “We have consistently urged Iraqi leaders to engage in dialogue and develop policies that address the root causes of the problem. Too many innocent lives have been lost,” he added.
Iraq is also yet to respond to UN and international calls for a moratorium on the death penalty. “Weaknesses in the criminal justice system mean that the death sentence is often handed down under questionable circumstances in Iraq,” said Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “With 123 prisoners executed in 2012, there is a great risk that the worst miscarriages of justice imaginable are taking place here,” said Ms. Pillay.
The UN welcomed progress made to implement the National Action Plan on Human Rights, and a number of laws passed by the Council of Representatives. It called for further efforts to empower the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights and to reduce interference by political blocs.
“Women, minorities, the disabled, and other vulnerable groups in Iraq continue to suffer from discrimination, economic and social barriers, and targeted attacks,” said Ms. Pillay. “I urge the Government of Iraq to do everything possible to implement the recommendations made in this report. Strengthening human rights institutions should be a top priority.”
“Iraqi citizens look to their leaders for protection,” concluded Mr. Kobler. “The human rights of all Iraqis should be of paramount concern for all members of the Iraqi Government.”
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