On February 16, 2010 the United Nations Human Rights Council met in Geneva, Switzerland. The Council is currently reviewing the human rights situation of every member state. On that day they discussed Iraq, with several Western countries being very critical. The U.S. ambassador said that Iraq had to improve the poor conditions within its prisons and look into reports of abuse. He also said that the U.S. was concerned about attacks on minorities, gays, lesbians, and women within the country. The British ambassador called on Iraq to end the use of the death penalty. He said that too many people were on death row after quick trials. The delegate from Denmark talked about torture in Iraqi jails. The Canadian, French, and German representatives also talked about honor killings of women. That has been brought up in several United Nations human rights reports on Iraq. The German delegate mentioned attacks on journalists and religious pressures on the press that could limit freedom of the media.
The remarks by the delegates to the Human Rights Council show that while security has greatly improved in Iraq, there are still many issues that the country still faces. To prove the point there were several news reports of Iraq’s on going problems just after the meeting. On February 17 for example, the Iraqi Association to Defend Journalists’ Rights complained that a reporter for the satellite TV channel al-Ahd had been kidnapped in Kirkuk. Three days later, the head of the human rights committee on the Basra provincial council said that the Mina prison was being mismanaged. He mentioned that prisoners were on a hunger strike there, protesting mistreatment. February has also seen a spate of attacks and murders of Christians in the northern city of Mosul. The last occurred on February 23 when militants broke into a house and killed three members of a family, one of which was a priest. These all show that Iraq has a long way to go before it has a real democratic society. All the voting and debating within parliament, will be for naught if the average Iraqi is not free from these types of abuses or attacks.
AK News, “Human Rights Commission criticizes Mina’s prison administration, prisoners on hunger strike,” 2/20/10
Associated Press, “US tells Iraq to improve prisons, stamp out abuse,” 2/16/10
Aswat al-Iraq, “Association demands search for kidnapped journalist,” 2/17/10
- “Gunmen kill 3 Christians in Mosul,” 2/23/10
Nebehay, Stephanie, “West wants end to torture, honour killings in Iraq,” Reuters, 2/16/10
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, “Human Rights Report 1 January – 30 June 2009,” 12/15/09
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