Human rights in post-invasion Iraq
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Human rights in post-invasion Iraq have been the subject of concerns and controversies since the 2003 invasion. Concerns have been expressed about conduct by insurgents, the U.S.-led coalition forces and the Iraqi government. The U.S. is investigating several allegations of violations of international and internal standards of conduct in isolated incidents by its own forces and contractors. The UK is also conducting investigations of alleged human rights abuses by its forces. War crime tribunals and criminal prosecution of the numerous crimes by insurgents are likely years away. In late February 2009, the U.S. state department released a report on the human rights situation in Iraq, looking back on the past year (2008).
- 1 Human rights abuses by insurgents
- 2 Human rights abuses by coalition forces
- 3 The current state of human rights
- 4 Sectarian warfare in Iraq
- 5 Propaganda
- 6 Other human rights
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Human rights abuses by insurgents
Abuses of Human Rights conducted by, or alleged to have been conducted by, Iraq-based insurgents US troops and/or terrorists include:
- Bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003 which killed the top U.N. representative in Iraq, 55-year-old Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian, who was also the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. 22 UN staff members were killed and more than 100 injured in the explosion. The dead also included Nadia Younes, former Executive Director at World Health Organization (WHO) in charge of External Relations and Governing Bodies. The terrorist attack was condemned by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and denounced by the UN security council.
South Korean translator Kim Sun-il beheaded by followers of al-Zarqawi.
Tawhid and Jihad behead Bulgarian truck drivers Ivaylo Kepov and Georgi Lazov. Al-Jazeera broadcast the videotape containing the killing, but said the portion with the actual killing was too graphic to broadcast.
Italian photographer, 52 year old Salvatore Santoro, beheaded in a video. Islamic Movement of Iraqi Mujahedeen claimed responsibility.
Al-Iraqiya TV (Iraq) aired transcripts of confessions by Syrian intelligence officer Anas Ahmad Al-Issa and Iraqi terrorist Shihab Al-Sab'awi concerning their booby-trap operations, explosions, kidnappings, assassinations, and details of beheading training in Syria.
Egyptian and Algerian envoys.
- Two Algerian Diplomats were reported to have been killed by Al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Qaeda in Iraq issued an Internet statement saying it killed two kidnapped Algerian diplomats, Ali Belaroussi and Azzedine Belkadi. “The court of al-Qaeda in Iraq has decided to carry out God’s verdict against the two diplomats from the apostate Algerian government ... and ordered to kill them,” said the statement, which was signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the al-Qaeda spokesman.
- Egyptian Diplomat by Al-Qaida was reported to have been killed. Al-Qaida in Iraq posted on a web forum a statement that it killed Egyptian diplomat al-Sherif. Top Sunni cleric Mohamed Sayed Tantawi condemned the killing as a "crime against religion, morality and humanity and a crime that goes against honour and chivalry".
The Al Askari Mosque bombing occurred on February 22, 2006 at approximately 6:55am local time (0355 UTC) at the Al Askari Mosque — one of the holiest sites in Shi'a Islam — in the Iraqi city of Samarra, some 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Baghdad. Although no injuries occurred in the blast, the bombing resulted in violence over the following days. Over 100 dead bodies with bullet holes were found on February 23, and at least 165 people are thought to have been killed.
Video of the killing of four Russian diplomats kidnapped in Iraq appear on the Internet. A group called the Mujahideen Shura Council released the hostage video.
Anba' Al Iraq News agency, Writers without Borders Organisation condemn the imprisonment of its staff member, Mr. Husain E. Khadir who was in charge of covering documentaries about the type of threats Kurdistan Federal region imposes to its Neighboring countries. Delegation of Human Rights Watch (HRW) released reports about torture in Iraq and repression of human rights and freedom of expression. HRW interviewed several detaineed writers and journalists to document such violation. Mr. Khadir was detained in Karkuk then moved to Arbil where Human Rights Watch (HRW) visited him in one of the detention places. Last year in Baghdad, the same writer suffered even worse when he escaped from Shiia militia, who seized his house and threw his family in the streets, which was considered as a serious threat directed against his life. The move is widely exercised in Iraq in a retaliation against human rights activists, journalists and writers who express critics to the Iraqi government and Shiia coalition party. Several press and media agencies criticized loudly the Iraqi Shiia Coalition during the constitution writing process. Khadir led a campaign to amend the constitution and urged for a constitution to be as peace building tool which brings all parties and opponents to a national consensus and social cohesion rather than a state building as the ruling party is regularly saying. UNAMI commented that most of these civil society activities were and are supported by the UN agencies, International donors or the US and British governments. IRIN/UN news agency revealed that journalists and writers are the most vulnerable victims to killing, deaths, threats, kidnapping, torture and detention are commonly exercised by un controlled Iraqi forces,paramilitary organisations and Shiia or Suni militias. Similarity to this specific case is occurring and spreading in the south, centre and the north of Iraq.
The number of killed journalists and writers in Iraq has exceeded 220 this year. The Iraqi organisation for Supporting Journalists victims reported to IRIN.
US National Guard Sergeant Frank "Greg" Ford claims that he witnessed human rights violations in Samarra, Iraq. A subsequent Army investigation found Ford's allegations to be unfounded. Ford was also found to have displayed unauthorized "US Navy SEAL" insignia on his Army uniform; Ford had in fact never been a Navy SEAL as he had claimed for many years while serving in the Army National Guard.
- Kuwaiti News Agency reports that a high ranking Iraqi security source in the Interior ministry said that the final death toll of the 13 August bombings in the Al-Zafaraniyah district in southern Baghdad is 57 killed and 145 injured, most of them women and children. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki laid the blame with Sunni extremists seeking to escalate the conflict.
Human rights abuses by coalition forces
Prison and interrogation abuses by coalition forces
An Iraqi man, Ather Karen al-Mowafakia, was shot and killed by a British Army soldier at a roadside checkpoint on 29 April 2003. Witnesses have told how he was shot in the abdomen after the door of his car struck a British soldier on the leg when he was getting out of his car, and that he was then dragged from the vehicle and beaten by British troops, dying later in hospital. There was no prosecution of British troops involved in his death.
In May 2003, Saeed Shabram and his cousin, Menem Akaili, were thrown into the river near Basra after being detained by British troops. Akaili survived but Shabram did not as he drowned in the river. Akaili said that he and Shabram were approached by a British patrol and led at gunpoint down to a jetty before being forced into the river. The punishment was known as "wetting" and said to have been inflicted on local youths suspected of looting. "Wetting was supposed to humiliate those suspected of being petty criminals," said Sapna Malik, the family's lawyer at Leigh Day and Co. "Although the MoD denies that there was a policy of wetting to deal with suspected looters around the time of this incident, evidence we have seen suggests otherwise. "The tactics employed by the MoD appeared to include throwing or placing suspected looters into either of Basra's two main waterways." Iraqi bystanders dragged Akaili out of the water but his cousin disappeared. Shabram's body was later recovered by a diver hired by his father, Radhi Shabram. Shabram's mother waited on the river bank for four hours, screaming and crying, while the diver searched the river. "When Saeed's corpse was finally pulled from the river, Radhi describes how it was bloated and covered with marks and bruises," said Leigh Day. Though the MOD paid compensation to Saeed Shabram's family, none of the British soldiers were charged for his death.
Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, aged 15, was on his way to work with his brother on May 8, 2003, when British soldiers assaulted him. The four British soldiers beat him then forced him into a canal at gunpoint to "teach him a lesson" for suspected looting (which wasn't proven to be true). Weakened from the beating Ali received from the soldiers, he floundered. He was dead when he was pulled from the river. Four British soldiers who were involved in the death of an Iraqi teenager were acquitted of manslaughter.
Hanan Saleh Matrud, an eight year old Iraqi girl, was killed on 21 August 2003 by a soldier of the King's Regiment, when a Warrior armoured vehicle stopped near an alley that lead to her home. Three or four soldiers got out. A group of children, including Hanan gathered, attracted by the soldiers. Suddenly, a soldier of the King's Regiment aimed and fired a shot that hit Hanan in her lower torso. At first, soldiers did not want to take her to hospital, but later did. She died the following day after an operation. No proper investigation was carried out, and no British soldier has been charged with her killing.
On 14 September, Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist, was arrested along with six other men and taken to a British base. While in detention, Mousa and the other captives were hooded, severely beaten, and assaulted by a number of British troops. Two days later, Mousa was found dead. A post-mortem examination found that Mousa suffered multiple injuries (at least 93), including fractured ribs and a broken nose, which were "in part" the cause of his death.
Seven members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment were tried on charges relating to the ill treatment of detainees, including those of war crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001. On 19 September 2006, Corporal Donald Payne pleaded guilty to a charge of inhumane treatment to persons, making him the first member of the British armed forces to plead guilty to a war crime. He was subsequently jailed for one year and expelled from the army. The BBC reported that the six other soldiers were cleared of any wrongdoing, and the Independent reported that the charges had been dropped, and that the presiding judge, Justice Ronald McKinnon, stated that "none of those soldiers has been charged with any offence, simply because there is no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks."
On January 1, Ghanem Kadhem Kati, an unarmed young man, was shot twice in the back by a British soldier at the door to his home on January 1. Troops had arrived at the scene after hearing shooting, which neighbours said came from a wedding party. Investigators from the Royal Military Police exhumed the teenager's body six weeks later but have yet to offer compensation or announce any conclusion to the inquiry.
Video footage taken from the gun camera of a US Apache helicopter in Iraq was shown on ABC TV, showing the killing of suspected Iraqi insurgents. Controversy arose around the case, due to the ambiguity of the video. A cylindrical object is tossed on the ground in a field. The US military considered it to be an RPG or a mortar tube and fired upon the people. IndyMedia UK has suggested that the items may have been harmless implements of some sort. The journal also says that the helicopter opened fire on a man identified as wounded, which they say is in contradiction with international laws.
On April 14, Lieutenant Ilario Pantano of the United States Marine Corps, killed two unarmed captives. Lieutenant Pantano claimed that the captives had advanced on him in a threatening manner. The officer who presided over his article 32 hearing recommended a court martial for "body desecration", but all charges against Lieutenant Pantano were dropped due to lack of credible evidence or testimony. He subsequently separated from the Marine Corps with an honorable discharge.
A video showing a group of British soldiers apparently beating several Iraqi teenagers was posted on the internet in February 2006, and shortly thereafter, on the main television networks around the world. The video, took place in April 2004 and was taken from an upper storey of a building in the southern Iraqi town of Al-Amarah, shows many Iraqis outside a coalition compound. Following an altercation in which members of the crowd tossed rocks and reportedly an improvised grenade at the soldiers, the British soldiers rushed the crowd. The troopers brought some Iraqi teenagers into the compound and proceeded to beat them. The video includes a voiceover in a British accent, apparently by the cameraman, taunting the beaten teenagers.
The individual recording could be heard saying:
- Oh, yes! Oh Yes! Now you gonna get it. You little kids. You little motherfucking bitch!, you little motherfucking bitch.
The event was broadcast in mainstream media, resulting in the British government and military condemning the event. The incident became especially worrisome for British soldiers, who had enjoyed a much more favourable position than American soldiers in the region. Concerns were voiced to the media about the safety of soldiers in the country after the incident. The tape incurred criticism, albeit relatively muted, from Iraq, and media found people prepared to speak out. The Royal Military Police conducted an investigation into the event, and the prosecuting authorities determined that there was insufficient case to justify court martial proceedings.
The village of Mukaradeeb was attacked by American helicopters on May 19, 2004, killing 42 men, women and children. The casualties, 11 of whom were women and 14 were children, were confirmed by Hamdi Noor al-Alusi, the manager of the nearest hospital. Western journalists also viewed the bodies of the children before they were buried.
See: Haditha killings
On November 19, 24 Iraqis were killed. At least 15, and allegedly all, of those killed were non-combatant civilians and all are alleged to have been killed by a group of U.S. Marines. The following ongoing investigation claimed it found evidence that "supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot civilians, including unarmed women and children", according to an anonymous Pentagon official.
See: Mahmudiyah killings
On March 12, 5 U.S. troops gang raped and murdered a 14 year old Iraqi girl, after murdering 3 members of her family currently in the home at the time. The incident resulted the offenders being prosecuted and a number of reprisal attacks against U.S. troops by insurgent forces.
See: Ishaqi incident
On March 15, 11 Iraqi civilians were allegedly bound and executed by U.S. troops in what is termed the "Ishaqi incident". A U.S. investigation found that U.S. military personnel had acted appropriately, and had followed the proper rules of engagement in responding to hostile fire and incrementally escalating force until the threat was eliminated. The Iraqi government has rejected the American conclusions and will launch its own investigation.
See: Hamdania incident
On April 26, U.S. Marines shot dead an unarmed Iraqi man. An investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service resulted in charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy associated with the coverup of the incident. The defendants are seven Marines and a Navy Corpsman. As of February 2007, five of the defendants have pleaded guilty to lesser charges of kidnapping and conspiracy and have agreed to testify against the remaining defendants who face murder charges. Additional Marines from the same battalion faced lesser charges of assault related to the use of physical force during interrogations of suspected insurgents.
On May 9, U.S. troops of the 101st Airborne Division executed 3 male Iraqi detainees at the Muthana Chemical Complex. An investigation and lengthy court proceedings followed. Spc. William Hunsaker and Pfc. Corey Clagett — pleaded guilty to murder and were sentenced to 18 years each for premeditated murder. Spc. Juston Graber, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for shooting one of the wounded detainees and was sentenced to nine months. A forth soldier, Staff Sgt. Ray Girouard of Sweetwater, Tenn. remains convicted of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and violation of a general order.
The current state of human rights
There have been major criticisms by numerous human rights organizations and Shiite officials that currently Sunnis have systematically kidnapped, tortured and killed Shiites or those who they deem the enemy. Amnesty International has extensively criticized the Iraqi government for its handling of the Walid Yunis Ahmad case, in which an ethnically-Turkmen journalist from Iraqi Kurdistan was held for ten years without charge or trial.
Sectarian warfare in Iraq
Iraq is in a state of sectarian civil war. Small groups as well as militia engage in bombings in civilian areas and in assassination of officials of various levels, and against Shiites and smaller religious minorities. Secular-oriented individuals, officials of the new government, aides to the United States (such as translators), individuals and families of the nation's various religious groups are subject to violence and death threats.
Refugee response to threats to life
See also Refugees of Iraq.
- "In Iraq, for example, the U.S. military command, working closely with the Iraqi government and the U.S. embassy, has sought nontraditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of aggressive campaign of disinformation. Yet this has been portrayed as inappropriate; for example, the allegations of someone in the military hiring a contractor, and the contractor allegedly paying someone to print a story—a true story—but paying to print a story."
"The U.S. military plans to continue paying Iraqi newspapers to publish articles favorable to the United States after an inquiry found no fault with the controversial practice," Army General George Casey said March 3, 2006. Casey said that "the internal review had concluded that the U.S. military was not violating U.S. law or Pentagon guidelines with the information operations campaign, in which U.S. troops and a private contractor write pro-American articles and pay to have them planted without attribution in Iraqi media."
The legal status of Freedom of Speech and the Press is also unclear in Iraq. Both freedoms are promised in the Iraqi Constitution, with exemptions for Islamic morality and national security. However, the operating Iraqi Criminal Code of 1969 has vague prohibitions to using the press or any electronic means of communication for "indecent" purposes.
Other human rights
The United States through the CPA abolished the death penalty (since reinstated) and ordered that Criminal Code of 1969 and the Civil Code of 1974 would be the operating legal system in Iraq. However, there has been some debate as to how far the CPA rules have been applied.
For example, the Iraqi Criminal Code of 1969 does not prohibit forming a trade union and the Iraqi Constitution promises that such an organization will be recognized (a right under Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), but for some reason the Iraqi courts and special tribunal seem to be operating under a slightly revised version of the 1988 legal code, and thus a 1987 ban on unions might still be in place.
Likewise, while the Iraqi Criminal Code of 1969 or the apparent 1988 edition do not expressly prohibit homosexual relations between consenting adults in private (a right under a United Nations Human Rights Commission ruling in 1994), scattered reports seem to suggest that homosexuality is still being treated as a crime, possible a capital crime under a 2001 amendment that technically should not exist. For more information on this topic see Gay rights in Iraq.
- Prisoner abuse
- Operation Phantom Fury
- Human rights in pre-Saddam Iraq
- Human rights in Saddam Hussein's Iraq
- 2003 invasion of Iraq
- Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–present
- Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse
- Human Rights Record of the United States
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Gay rights in Iraq
- Refugees of Iraq
- Religious war
- NewsHour Extra: Who Are the Iraq Insurgents? - June 12, 2006
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- "Troops cleared over Iraq drowning". BBC News. 6 June 2006.
- "Iraqi, 15, 'drowned after soldiers forced him into canal'". Guardian. 2 May 2006.
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General human rights
-  Human Rights Watch: Background on the Crisis in Iraq (a contents page for the organization's various reports on Iraq, mostly after Saddam's regime fell)
- Iraq Inter-Agency Information & Analysis Unit Reports, Maps and Assessments of Iraq's Governorates from the UN Inter-Agency Information & Analysis Unit
-  U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Iraq, 2005 (released March 8, 2006)
-  Freedom House 2006 report on Iraq
- OneWorld.net's Latest Coverage on Iraq
- Pictures of the abuse by US soldiers, courtesy of The Memory Hole. Note that the full set of pictures has not been released, including the rape of a young Iraqi by a military contractor.
- April 7, 2003 DOD Briefing on Geneva Convention, EPW's and War Crimes
- The Guardian: Soldier arrested over Iraqi torture photos (May 31, 2003)
- Washington Post: 'Torture Lite' Takes Hold in War on Terror (March 3, 2004)
- US tactics condemned by British officers (April 21, 2004) (Daily Telegraph)
- CBS 60 minutes II: Abuse Of Iraqi POWs By GIs Probed (April 29, 2004)
- BBC: US acts after Iraq prisoner abuse, (30 April 2004)
- Doubt cast on Iraq torture photos (May 2, 2004) (BBC)
- 13 reasons why this picture may not be all it seems (May 2, 2004) (Daily Telegraph)
- This Is Not A Hoax. I Saw It, I Was There (Answers to some of the objections; May 3, 2004) (The Daily Mirror) (Alternative link)
- A third UK soldier steps up (May 7, 2004) (The Guardian)
- Mirror admits it was "hoaxed" (May 15, 2004) (The Daily Mirror)
- Two Danish physicians attest to British abuse (May 15, 2004) (New Zealand Herald)
- New Details of Prison Abuse Emerge (May 21, 2004)
- Report: Army doctors involved in Abu Ghraib abuse (2004-08-20) (Reuters)
- Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib - Interview with Seymour Hersh by Democracy Now! on September 14, 2004.
- Journalists Among Those Abused by US Troops (IFEX)
- U.S. State Department on Iraq Human rights in 2004 (released 2005) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices section on Iraq. 460 KB in size for the Iraq portion alone. HTML. One page. No pictures, all English text.
- Editorial: Patterns of Abuse, New York Times, May 23, 2005
- UN raises alarm on death squads and torture in Iraq (Reuters, September 8, 2005)
- US Troops Seize Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist, The Guardian, January 9, 2006
- Thank You Joe Darby – A site for expressions of support for Joe Darby, the soldier that exposed the graphic photos and video and brought the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to light.
- Iraq general's killer reprimanded, BBC, January 24, 2006
- Mild Penalties in Military Abuse Cases, Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2006
- ‘The Salvador Option’, Newsweek, January 14, 2005
- Sunni men in Baghdad targeted by attackers in police uniforms, Knight Ridder, June 28, 2005
- 539 Bodies Found in Iraq Since April, AP, October 7, 2005
- Ex-PM: Abuse as bad as Saddam era, CNN, November 27, 2005
- Killings Linked to Shiite Squads in Iraqi Police Force, LA Times, November 29, 2005
- Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings, NY Times, November 29, 2005
- Iraq's Death Squads: On the Brink of Civil War, The Independent, February 26, 2006
- Bound, Blindfolded and Dead: The Face of Revenge in Baghdad, NY Times, March 26, 2006
- Iraq militias' wave of death, Boston Globe, April 2, 2006