Some human rights progress in Iraq, but serious problems remain: UN

BAGHDAD / GENEVA (19 December 2012) - The respect and protection of human rights in Iraq remains fragile as the country continues its transition from years of conflict and violence to peace and democracy, says the United Nations in its most recent Report on Human Rights in Iraq, which covers the period from 1 January to 30 June 2012.

Violence remains of great concern, with the number of civilians killed having slightly increased compared to the same period in 2011. The report found that some 1,346 civilians were killed and 3,660 others were wounded during the first six months of 2012. Despite a decline in the overall number of incidents, the attacks were often more deadly, with a few attacks claiming scores of victims.

The report, which is produced by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), noted that the Government of Iraq took a number of positive steps to address certain human rights concerns, including some key legislative and institutional reforms. It welcomed the appointment of the Commissioners to serve on Iraq’s first Independent High Commission for Human Rights, the ratification by Iraq of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the launch of a reorganization and rehabilitation programme for detention centres and prisons under the authority of the Ministry of Justice.

The report also highlighted that many ordinary Iraqi women, children, persons with disabilities and members of ethnic and religious groups continue to face varying degrees of discrimination in the full enjoyment of their basic rights – and that many Iraqis still have limited access to basic services, including healthcare, education, and employment.

“Respect for human rights is at the basis of any democracy, and strong action needs to be taken by the Iraqi authorities to ensure that each and every person in this country can fully enjoy his or her fundamental rights – including social and economic rights,” stressed the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Mr. Martin Kobler.

Other concerns focused on the reliance on confessions as the foundation for convictions in judicial proceedings, the implementation of the death penalty and a lack of appropriate resources for prosecutors and courts to address overcrowding in detention centres. The situation in the prisons is still of serious concern.

“I am calling on the Iraqi authorities to address the serious human rights violations highlighted in this report,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“In particular, I would like to stress that under international law, the death penalty is permitted in very limited circumstances, including after trial and appeal proceedings that scrupulously respect all the principles of due process,” she said. “The number of executions so far in 2012, and the manner in which they have been carried out in large batches, is extremely dangerous, cannot be justified, and risks seriously undermining the partial and tentative progress on rule of law in Iraq outlined in this report. I encourage the Iraqi Government to declare a moratorium on all executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty in the near future.”


For further information and interview requests, please contact:

In Baghdad: Ms. Eliana Nabaa, Director of Public Information/Spokesperson, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) – Email:
In Geneva: Mr. Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office – Email:


Reports on the human rights situation in Iraq are published by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) pursuant to their respective mandates.

The reports canvas a range of human rights issues, including the effects of armed conflict and violence on civilians, detention and rule of law, women’s rights, rights of children and juveniles, internally displaced persons and refugees, rights of minorities, and political rights, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

Information included in the reports is gathered from direct monitoring by UNAMI, as well as from a variety of other sources, including Government, UN agencies, civil society, individuals and media reports.

The full Report on Human Rights in Iraq: January to June 2012 is available online in Arabic and English. The section on the Kurdistan Region is also available in Kurdish.