UN report: human rights situation in Iraq remains fragile

30 May 2012

The human rights situation in Iraq remains fragile as the country continues its transition to peace and democracy after years of violence, according to a United Nations report released today, noting that Government efforts to protect and promote the rights of its citizens need to be increased.

“This report highlights a number of shortcomings, some of which are of serious concern and need to be urgently addressed by the Iraqi authorities. There is no democracy without respect for human rights,” the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, said in a news release.

The report is a periodic one on the Middle Eastern country's human rights situation, prepared by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) – which Mr. Kobler heads – in cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The report recognizes that the Government has made progress in implementing measures to improve the situation, but notes that the impact of these measures is still limited.

“Steps have been taken to improve the human rights record of Iraq, including the establishment of the much needed Independent Human Rights Commission on 9 April 2012, but a lot more needs to be done,” Mr. Kobler said. “Human rights, including social and economic rights, need to be enforced, respected and protected for all Iraqis everywhere in Iraq.”

The report indicates that the overall human rights situation in the Kurdistan Region has improved, in particular due to legislative reforms undertaken by the Kurdistan regional government. However, there remain concerns about deficiencies in respect for freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and the protection of journalists.

In a news release, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, noted that the report highlights serious concerns about the administration of justice and the lack of respect for due process rights in Iraq.

“Individuals continue to be arrested and detained for prolonged periods without being charged and without access to legal counsel. Prisoner and detainee abuse and torture are also occurring across the country,” Ms. Pillay said. “I urge the Iraqi authorities to prioritise the firm establishment of the rule of law and human rights in Iraq and bring an end to such abuses.”

The human rights chief also called on the authorities to ensure that journalists and human rights defenders are able to perform their work without fear of harassment and violence.

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