Rights group urges Iraq forces to end attacks on protesters

Rights group urges Iraq forces to end attacks on protesters

Photo source or description

[JURIST] Iraqi authorities must end attacks on peaceful protesters [press release], according to a Tuesday report from Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. The report, “Days of Rage: Protests and Repression in Iraq” [text, PDF], asserts that Iraqi and Kurdistan authorities have shot and killed demonstrators and have detained and tortured political activists, targeting journalists covering the protests. According to the report, thousands of Iraqis have engaged in peaceful protests since February, calling for an end to unemployment, inadequate government services and corruption. The report calls for an end to human rights violations related to the demonstrations:

Up to now, the Iraqi authorities in both Baghdad and the Kurdistan region have sought to crack down on peaceful protestors. This must change. They should be cracking down on the use of excessive force and torture by their own largely unaccountable security forces, not on the right of people to peacefully protest. The Iraqi authorities should be upholding the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including the right to protest, not trying to suppress them. It is high time to do so.

AI alleges that Iraqi authorities have breached the Iraqi Constitution [text, PDF] and the Iraq-ratified International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text], as well as the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (Basic Principles) [text] and the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials [text], which Iraqi armed forces and securities forces contravened when responding to the February protests. AI recommends that Iraqi authorities ensure that citizens’ right to protest peacefully is not infringed and conduct thorough investigations into the killings and torture allegations.

Iraq has been closely scrutinized for human rights violations. AI 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.