Iraq must end torture and ‘flagrant’ human rights abuses, Amnesty demands

Iraq must put an immediate halt to its flagrant violations of human rights, and especially the torture of prisoners to obtain confessions, Amnesty International has demanded.

And Iraq should not use the presence of the Islamic State terror group within its borders to delay making genuine reforms and putting an end to rampant abuses.

Amnesty International said in a statement: “Prior to the review in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, Amnesty International urges Iraq to engage constructively in the review to address flagrant violations committed during the current crisis and the appalling legacy of human rights abuses in the country.

“Amnesty International acknowledges the challenges facing the Iraqi government since the armed group calling itself the Islamic State took over large parts of the country in June 2014.

“However, the Iraqi authorities should not use the current security situation to delay genuine consideration and implementation of key recommendations in order to put an end to rampant abuses.”

UN member states had also called for all those accused of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law to face justice, Amnesty said.

It added: “A number of countries also recommended the Iraqi government to… end the practice of torture and establish a moratorium on the death penalty.

“The situation in Iraq shows that no progress has been achieved in relation to many of these priorities. Government-backed Shi’a militias have increasingly been used in the fight against the IS. Amnesty International documented cases of extortion and abductions and killings of Sunni civilian men by state-backed Shi’a militias across Iraq.”

The statement added: “Amnesty International is also concerned about the response of the Iraqi government to long-standing human rights abuses, such as the systematic use of torture and other ill-treatment in prisons and detention centres.”

Amnesty International welcomes the Iraqi delegation’s commitment to establish a department within the Ministry of Human Rights that would review the application of the death penalty, but it deplores the delegation’s justification of the use of the death penalty within the current crisis.

“Iraq is one of the leading executioners in the world. For years Amnesty International has documented hundreds of cases of people sentenced to death under the 2005 anti-terrorism law after grossly unfair trials that took into account as main evidence ‘confessions’ obtained under torture.”

The statement added: “If the Iraqi government is indeed taking seriously the UPR mechanism, it must immediately end abuses, accept key recommendations and take urgent action to implement them. The authorities must address as a matter of priority calls to rein in militias, abolish the death penalty, protect civilians and end the practice of torture and other ill-treatment.

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