Back to top



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.

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.

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.