Geneva - Despite the passing of 150 days since the new government, led by Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, began work, the most prominent cases where victims await justice remain stalled, said Euro-Med Monitor in a statement.
Al-Sudani pledged in his government’s action plan to protect and promote human rights, in addition to investigating several cases involving human rights violations, such as negative phenomena in detention centres, and guarantees that there is no impunity in the killings of demonstrators. However, after more than five months of government work, these pledges have yet to be translated into real practical measures.
Since the start of its work, the Iraqi Council of Ministers has not discussed any mechanisms to activate and develop the accountability system. It also has not taken accurate and specific decisions to redress the victims and hold accountable those responsible for crimes of torture in prisons and demonstrator killings in the October 2019 protests. Furthermore, it ignored the follow-up on dozens of instances of forced disappearances of civil activists in recent years.
Iraqi detention centres and prisons continue to record heinous human rights violations, which frequently result in deaths. Hundreds of detainees have died in recent years as a result of torture and poor detention conditions. The most recent detainee who died was Mohammed Mazal Jaseb, who–according to his family–died from torture a few days ago after being detained awaiting a civil case at the Al Maqal police station in Basra.
The Iraqi government has made no progress toward ending ongoing legal abuses in the courts, such as filing charges based on information provided by a secret informant, forcing detainees to confess under torture, and inflicting unfair punishments, particularly on civil activists and journalists.
Euro-Med Monitor has recorded severe violations of the rights of inmates and detainees in Iraq over the past years Such violations include the killing of several inmates in Basra, some of whom were mistakenly arrested, and the torture of detainees inside security facilities. Euro-Med Monitor has repeatedly urged authorities to put an end to these inhumane practices.
Although al-Sudani’s media office created a designated email address solely to receive complaints from those subjected to torture or coerced confessions on 11th November, and despite receiving 5,000 complaints, the government and its competent agencies have not announced any measures to hold accountable those involved in crimes committed in prisons and detention centres.
The Iraqi government has not yet announced any decisions or practical measures related to holding accountable those involved in the crimes that accompanied the October 2019 protests; even though security forces and armed militias have killed approximately 730 Iraqis, injured over 25,000 others, and forcibly disappeared dozens of peaceful demonstrators over about six months.
The continued stalemate in accountability cases raises major worries about the seriousness of the Iraqi government’s pledges, as it should have given this issue high priority given the gravity of the crimes committed during that period.
“Merely making promises and receiving complaints will not help to improve Iraq’s deteriorating human rights situation; instead, practical steps should be taken to end human rights violations in the country,” said Omar Alajlouni, a legal researcher at Euro-Med Monitor. “The political situation should not be used as an excuse to avoid these responsibilities.”
Article 2 of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Iraq acceded in 2011, states that “each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.” The Article also prohibits using any exceptional circumstances to justify torture.
The Iraqi Prime Minister must put an end to the delay in discussing and achieving justice in human rights cases, take all possible steps to compensate victims of human rights violations, and ensure that perpetrators of torture, murder, enforced disappearance, and other serious crimes do not go unpunished.