UN Rep on Human Rights in Iraq

Among the challenges, the United Nations is deeply concerned that the Iraqi people continue to suffer the effects of violence, both direct and indirect, at the hands of terrorists, including loss of life and injury, destruction of infrastructure, and the negative impact such acts have on economic and social development. While the victims of the previous regime receive compensation and other forms of social and economic support, the same cannot be said for those who have been the victims of violence perpetrated during the past 9 years. The Government needs to do more to ensure that medical, social and other forms of support are provided to all Iraqis who are the victims of terrorism, irrespective of who the perpetrators might be or when such acts were committed.

The rule of law, due process and fair trial rights are not yet universally understood or respected in Iraq. While it is incumbent on the Government to ensure that any person accused of committing a crime is held accountable, such accountability must be in full conformity with international law and the requirements of the Constitution and laws of Iraq to ensure that it is only the guilty who are punished, not the innocent who are unjustly made to suffer.

Police, investigative judges, and prosecutors suffer from lack of resources – including up-to-date forensic techniques that aid in the investigation of crimes. Law reform is desperately needed. The Anti Terrorism law permits detention of individuals for prolonged periods without access to lawyers or family members. The Courts rarely implement bail provisions – preferring instead to detain people while awaiting trial – thereby significantly adding to the overcrowding in detention facilities and placing greater strains on prisons, prosecutors and courts. Corruption has also been reported to UNAMI, including allegations that court decisions sometimes go unimplemented or persons are wrongly detained until sums of money are paid to prison, police or other officials.

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