[JURIST] While general security conditions in Iraq have improved, human rights violations have continued, according to a report released [press release] Tuesday by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) [official website]. In its 13th report on the human rights situation in Iraq [text, PDF], UNAMI highlighted its concern for the treatment of detainees in the country. The report, which covered the first half of this year, described the situation of minority groups, the displacement of civilians in the country, and the aspects of detention by the various authorities in Iraq, among other things. In describing the issues of detainee treatment the report said:
The situation of detainees across the country, including in the Region of Kurdistan, remains of great concern to UNAMI, which continues to visit detention facilities and prisons under the authority of the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Defence, and Labour and Social Affairs. Many detainees have been deprived of their liberty for months or even years, often under precarious physical conditions, without access to defence counsel, or without being formally charged with a crime or produced before a judge. Continuing allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of inmates are of particular concern. Slow bureaucratic procedures, insufficient resources, degraded infrastructure and lack of effective accountability measures result in inordinate delays in processing detainees’ cases. UNAMI also continues to observe criminal proceedings before the Central Criminal Court of Iraq and criminal courts in the Kurdistan Region.
During a news conference held for the release of the report, the UN envoy to Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, added that he was worried about issues of prison overcrowding and said that the US would likely face a difficult task in turning over control of inmates within its control.
Last month, Mistura praised [press release; UN News Centre report] Iraq's new Independent High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), calling it a "milestone" for human rights in the region. The IHCHR was instituted by the Iraqi Council of Representatives [official website] and is mandated by the Iraqi Constitution [text]. The new body is to focus on civil, cultural, economic, political, and social human rights in the country.