UN 14th Report On The Human Rights Situation In Iraq

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued today its fourteenth report on the human rights situation in the country covering the period from July to December 2008. The report, produced in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, notes that although the period covered was characterised by further improvements in security, the overall human rights situation in Iraq remains a matter of concern.

The report describes a range of human rights abuses and reiterates that security will be sustainable if additional steps are taken in order to strengthen the rule of law and address impunity. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Staffan de Mistura, while recognizing various efforts by the Ministry of Human Rights, urged the Government of Iraq to take advantage of the improved security, stating: “This is an opportunity for Iraq to advance all aspects of the rule of law and human rights by further introducing legal reforms, strengthening the judiciary, improving the conditions of detention and enabling access to justice.”

The report also acknowledges important institutional and legal developments that took place during the reporting period. It commends the Iraqi Government for the adoption of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT); the inclusion of provisions for minority representation in the electoral law; and the adoption of the law on the Independent High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), which is expected to significantly contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights in Iraq. In the Northern Region of Kurdistan, two significant initiatives were taken: the establishment of three committees to deal with violence against women, and the adoption of a new media law.

However, the report says the situation in prisons and detention centres still remains an issue of concern and it recommends reviewing the legal framework in order to make the essential move away from a confession-based system to an evidence-based one. UNAMI stands ready to help in this process.

The report shows that gender-based violence remains one of the key unaddressed problems throughout Iraq. Numerous murders of women under the guise of so-called “honour killings” are still being recorded as suicides, the report shows, while in the Northern Region of Kurdistan the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) remains a tolerated practice.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, whose staff helped compile the report, said “The situation of Iraqi women is extremely difficult. Violent actions are taken against them on a daily basis and I urge the authorities to make it a priority to both improve legislation, and law enforcement in order to protect them properly.”

UNAMI, together with Iraqi stakeholders, continues to provide advocacy work aiming at the eradication of such obsolete practices and perceptions. UNAMI also reminds all authorities in Iraq of their obligation to ensure full respect for international humanitarian and human rights law when engaged in security operations.

SOURCE: Human Rights

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DATE: 11/05/2009

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