Human rights situation in Iraq of serious concern, UN reports

8 September 2005

The top United Nations envoy in Iraq today voiced serious concern over the human rights situation in the war-torn country, including allegations of extra-judicial executions, consistent reports of excessive use of force and mass detentions of people without warrants, and the displacement of populations in security operations.

"There is a continuing concern over the lack of protection of basic human rights in Iraq," Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said in releasing the "Report on the Human Rights Situation in Iraq" for July-August, noting that he had repeatedly brought up the issue with various members of the Government.

"Each Iraqi citizen should enjoy the rights and protections stipulated in international treaties and agreements that Iraq has ratified," he stressed.

The report, compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for the country (UNAMI) Human Rights Office, also noted the flagrant disregard for human life demonstrated by armed opposition groups, as well as the impact of special security operations in central and northern areas, resulting in the displacement of populations and inordinate suffering of innocent civilians.

"The United Nations unreservedly condemns terrorism as it constitutes a serious violation of human rights," the report said. "The United Nations is ready to assist the Iraqi authorities in ensuring that measures taken to combat terrorism and the insurgency comply with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law."

Incidents cited in the report included:

The bodies of 36 men, blindfolded, handcuffed, bearing signs of torture, found on 25 August near Badhra. Families of the victims reported that the men had been detained after an operation carried out by forces linked to the Ministry of Interior.

Reports of ill-treatment of detainees continue. First and second hand accounts from Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and the Kurdish areas consistently point to the systematic use of torture during interrogations at police stations and other premises belonging to the Ministry of Interior.

Special security operations in central and northern areas, particularly in al-Anbar Governorate and Tal Afar, result in displacement of population. The use of snipers and alleged use of illegal, non-conventional weapons in those areas are a particular source of anguish for the local population. It would be beneficial to publicly announce the type of weapons which are being or have been used by military forces.

Mass detentions without warrants continue to be used in military operations by Iraqi police, special forces of the Ministry of Interior and by the (United States-led) Multinational Force.

The high number of persons detained across the country during security operations continues to be a matter of concern. Internees should enjoy all the protections envisaged in all the rights guaranteed by international human rights conventions.Security Council Resolution 1546 mandates UNAMI "to promote the protection of human rights, national reconciliation, and judicial and legal reform in order to strengthen the rule of law in Iraq."

UNAMI's Human Rights Office will publish the results of its activities on a bi-monthly basis, with the next report on the September-October period expected in early November.


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