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Human rights defenders in Iraq have been subjected to attack, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention without trial. Despite the fact that Iraq became a party to the Convention Against Torture in July 2011, torture and ill-treatment in camps and detention centres remains widespread, including against imprisoned human rights defenders and democracy activists.
In a report released in August 2011, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) stated that “incidents of abuse and torture remain widely reported”, and that “significant problems remain with law enforcement and the administration of justice, especially in relation to the provision and respect for due process and fair trial rights”.
Media organizations and journalists who reported on protests or advocated for human rights are regularly the targets of politically motivated attacks and threats. In May 2011 the Council of Ministers approved a “Law on the Freedom of Expression, of Opinion, Assembly, and Peaceful Demonstration” which authorizes officials to restrict freedom of assembly to protect “the public interest”, and criminalizes certain kinds of speech and public “insults” to religious sects or individuals revered by a particular religion.
Furthermore a new draft law on information technology crimes will potentially provide authorities with another tool for censorship and the suppression of dissent, with particularly repressive provisions relating to the internet. Life imprisonment is among the punishment measures included in the bill, for computer-based activities considered to be intentionally subversive in any way. Women's rights activists, female politicians and civil servants remain at risk of extremist attacks.
In the Kurdistan region of Iraq a new law on NGOs allows them to receive funding from both foreign and local sources, open branches and form networks. However the general situation for human rights defenders in the area remains precarious with excessive force commonly used by police, and widespread torture of detainees and attacks on journalists.
28 April 2011
02 December 2010
02 January 2009
08 June 2007
22 May 2007