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Reaction to UNAMI Human Rights Report
Alleged torture and death of Imam among topics of discussion
By DANIEL W. SMITH 12/10/2008 9:37 PM ET
From the UNAMI report, released last week
From the UNAMI report, released last week


Today, December 10, 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, what the UN describes as “the foundation of international human rights law, (and) the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights.” One week ago, the United Nations’ mission in Iraq (UNAMI), released a fairly damning report of the current state of human rights in Iraq, and it has caused much comment since.

The Iraqi Minister of Human Rights described the report as “positive”, while the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG’s) liaison to the UN, Dindar Zibari, was quoted by Aswat al-Iraq as saying, “Being the source of information for the United Nations, we make it clear that part of the report is incorrect.” Zibari added, “The regional government has taken positive steps to improve the situation of human rights in the region.”

The central government, the KRG, various Iraq security forces, and Multi-National forces are all documented in the report as violating human rights, in such areas as detentions, womens’ rights, children’s rights, and the targeting of journalists, doctors, educators, and judges. Though it does not mince words, “substantial improvements” in human rights in Iraq are mentioned as well.

Last week, UPI reported on a ceremony in Iraq's north, where KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his human rights minister, Yousif Aziz, called Iraqi Kurdistan “a model for tolerance and respect for diversity,” - not exactly the characterization provided by the UNAMI report.

On Wednesday evening, Mahmoud Authman, an MP in the Kurdish Alliance said on satellite television station Qalat Baghdad, "The history of Iraq is full of human rights violations, and the current government must be aware of that.”

A press statement by the Iraqi Islamic Party IIP) used the report to bring attention to the “lack of progress” in human rights for Iraqis, but also to an incident which they say is a blatant and savage violation of them. The alleged victim was Fadil Bashir al-Jawani, the imam of Ahmed bin Hanbal Mosque, in the city of Baquba, in Diyala province.

Iraqslogger spoke to Amer Wajih at the IIP political office, who said, “Security forces detained the imam for political reasons in the city of Baquba, and he was subject to severe torture. As a result, he suffered serious kidney problems. He was transferred to Baquba General Hospital, where he died. This is not the first incident, but it has been preceded by many other such events in Diyala, and other regions. It seems that this approach continues.”

About Iraqi human rights in general, Wajih said, “They are getting better, but are still very complicated and very bad. Too many innocents are in jail without having been charged. The parliamentary committees are very active in tracking violations down, but whenever they ask about this, there is a hidden hand affecting the outcome, and choosing to make progress impossible.”

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