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Rights group claims Iraq courts failing to meet due process standards

[JURIST] The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) is inefficient and ineffective, with detainees waiting months or years for trials that do not meet international fair trial standards, according to a report [text, PDF; press release] released Sunday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report, titled "The Quality of Justice: Failings of Iraq's Central Criminal Court," alleges that the court relies heavily on testimony of secret informants and coerced confessions. It also describes cases where defendants have waited as long as two years for a hearing with lawyers having little or no access to their clients or case files. The report states:

The CCCI is the country’s flagship criminal justice institution. Yet it is an institution that is seriously failing to meet international standards of due process and fair trials. Defendants often endure long periods of pretrial detention without judicial review, and are not able to pursue a meaningful defense or challenge evidence against them. Abuse in detention, typically with the aim of extracting confessions, appears common, thus tainting court proceedings in those cases.
HRW makes recommendations to the Iraqi government, including limiting the use of secret informants and disallowing confessions obtained through torture. It also makes recommendations to the US government, including transferring detainee cases to the legal jurisdiction of the Iraqi courts, but retaining physical custody of the detainees to avoid the risk of torture.

The CCCI will become increasingly more active as the recently approved [JURIST report] Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF; CFR backgrounder] takes effect at the end of the year, transferring detainees held by the US-led Multinational Force to Iraqi jurisdiction. Last month, human rights groups expressed their concern [JURIST report] about the treatment of detainees due to be transferred from US military custody to Iraqi authorities under the SOFA. Earlier this month, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) [official website] reported that while general security conditions in Iraq have improved, human rights violations have continued .

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