Human rights in Iraq remain fragile amid armed violence, torture and impunity – UN
Armed violence continues to affect large numbers of Iraqis, with minorities, women and children suffering disproportionately, torture widely reported and impunity rife, according to a United Nations report released today.
“The human rights situation throughout Iraq remains fragile,” the report notes, also citing so-called “silent” human rights violations, such as entrenched poverty.
“Widespread poverty, economic stagnation, lack of opportunities, environmental degradation and an absence of basic services constitute 'silent' human rights violations that affect large sectors of the population,” it says.
The report, released by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), covers the human rights situation throughout 2010 and studies a range of human rights issues, including the impact of armed conflict and violence on civilians, detention and the rule of law, and protection of the rights of specific groups.
On political rights, including freedom of assembly and expression, it notes that while there has been improvement in some areas, many challenges remain.
According to UNAMI and Government estimates, around 3,000 civilians were killed in violence in 2010, largely perpetrated by armed insurgents and terrorist groups. Members of minorities, women and children continue to suffer disproportionately from indiscriminate and targeted violence, the report notes.
Significant problems remain with law enforcement and the administration of justice, especially provision and respect for due process and fair trial rights, it adds. While there has been some improvement in the physical conditions of many detention facilities and prisons, incidents of abuse and torture remain widely reported. An over-reliance on confessions to convict encourages an environment where the torture of detainees takes place, the report notes.
“Ending impunity also remains a serious challenge in Iraq,” it stresses. “Perpetrators of crimes committed over many years continue to be unaccountable. A number of mass graves were discovered during the year containing the victims of various human rights abuses committed at various times over the past few decades.”
The report also notes that women's rights in some ways deteriorated in 2010 and children continue to suffer from violence and armed conflict, in some instances having been recruited or used to commit acts of violence. Minorities suffered from a number of attacks.
The report's recommendations include a call on the Government to complete the establishment of an independent human rights commission, ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, and ensure compliance by security forces, police and all officials engaged in law enforcement and justice with the requirements of international humanitarian law and human rights law in combating armed violence.
Information for the report was gathered from direct monitoring by UNAMI as well as from a variety of other sources, including Government, UN Agencies, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).