UNAMI issues its 10th report on the situation of human rights in Iraq

Baghdad, 25 April 2007-- The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued its tenth report on the human rights situation in the country covering the period 1 January to 31 March 2007. Beginning with this report a decision to switch issuance of human rights reports from a by-monthly to a quarterly timeframe was taken to allow time for particular issues to be more fully and comprehensively researched and followed up, and allow time for UNAMI to issue periodic thematic reports focusing on specific issues of human rights concern during the reporting period.

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)."