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Iraq human rights abuses continue: UN report

Human rights abuses continue to plague various regions of Iraq, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] concluded in a report [text, PDF] released Monday. The report, which analyzes the human rights situation in Iraq [press release] throughout the year 2010, is based on information from UN and government agencies and civil society, as well as research gathered through direct monitoring. The report notes that "silent" rights abuses, like widespread poverty, economic stagnation, environmental degradation, and lack of opportunities and basic services, are some of the country's greatest developmental challenges. The study found that over 3,000 civilians were killed by insurgents and terrorist groups, with public officials, community and religious leaders, journalists, and medical and education professionals constituting the majority of targeted civilians. Law enforcement and the administration of justice remain problematic, detainees are regularly denied access to council, and torture and abuse at detention facilities and prisons remains despite some modest improvements. Women's rights continued to be a concern in Iraq throughout 2010 where domestic violence, trafficking, genital mutilation and honor crimes against women continue to be reported. Though large numbers of citizens voted in the general elections, violent acts were committed against civilians and politicians, particularly those from minority groups. Despite the reported abuses, regional governments continue to take "meaningful steps" to improve the human rights situation in Iraq, the report said. UNAMI and the OHCHR called on Iraq to implement the report's recommendations and respect the country's international obligations.

Iraq has been closely scrutinized for human rights violations. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported in May that Iraqi authorities must end attacks on peaceful protesters [press release; JURIST report]. AI also issued a report in September alleging that the Iraqi government is unlawfully detaining and torturing [press release; JURIST report] thousands of detainees. In June, UN Special Representative to Iraq Ad Melkert urged the Iraqi government [JURIST report] to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text]. Melkert stated that Iraq had made several advances in recognizing human rights violations, but the government's policy implementation still faces several obstacles. The convention was adopted by the UN in 1984 and has been ratified by 147 countries. Iraq remains one of 45 member-countries that have yet to ratify the treaty. Last April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported on the repeated torture [JURIST report] of Iraqi detainees in a secret prison in Baghdad. HRW reported that detainees held at the secret Muthanna facility, run by Iraqi authorities, were hung upside-down, deprived of air, kicked, whipped, beaten, given electric shocks and sodomized during torture sessions that detainees faced every three to four days.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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