UN Special Representative to Iraq Ad Melkert on Saturday urged the Iraqi government to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text]. Melkert's statement, which was delivered on the thirteenth annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture [official website], called for increased monitoring and investigation of torture allegations [CNN report] made by detainees and the prosecution of those responsible. Melkert went on to say that Iraq has 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.
Iraq has faced several obstacles in solidifying the nation's newly-created democratic government, which has been riddled with tension between Shiite Muslims and the Sunni minority. Earlier this month, the Iraqi Supreme Court ratified the final results [JURIST report] of the nation's March 7 parliamentary elections [CEIP backgrounder; JURIST news archive], officially confirming a narrow victory for the secular Iraqiya alliance, led by Iyad Allawi [personal website, in Arabic; Al Jazeera profile]. The victory gave Iraqiya a slim two-seat lead over the Shiite State of Law [official website] coalition of incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic]. Allawi hopes Iraqiya's victory will be a turning point for bipartisan participation among the religious sects, but his goal of unification may be thwarted, as Maliki's bloc has already announced an alliance with the Shia Iraqi National Alliance, which polled third, to form the largest grouping in parliament.