Iraq plans special court to handle human rights cases

The new human rights court is slated to be inaugurated in 2013. Above, empty chairs and tables are seen at the criminal court in Baghdad. [Ali Abbas/AFP]

The new human rights court is slated to be inaugurated in 2013. Above, empty chairs and tables are seen at the criminal court in Baghdad. [Ali Abbas/AFP]

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Iraq intends to create a special court by 2013 to examine legal suits related to human rights complaints and abuses, officials said Thursday (November 8th).

Fadhel al-Gharrawi, a member of the Iraqi Independent High Commission for Human Rights, told Mawtani that the Commission's law 53 of 2008 gives it "clear powers to track any human rights breaches or abuses, refer them to the general prosecution for verification and to issue appropriate decisions and sentences within a specific time period".

Due to the specific nature of human rights cases, the Commission believed it necessary to form a specialised tribunal to handle these cases, and thus submitted a request to the judicial authorities to create the court, he said. The Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq approved the request last week.

Creating this new institution will coincide with the Commission's official announcement of its national strategic plan during a general conference to be held in the beginning of 2013, al-Gharrawi said.

"Based on the plan's mechanisms, Commission offices in all Iraqi provinces will monitor instances of human rights violations, receive complaints from injured parties, prepare [these issues] as legal cases and submit them to the court so it can investigate them and take the required legal steps," he said.

The court aims to support and strengthen Iraqis' political, social, cultural and economic rights and reaffirm Iraq's commitment to the international human rights agreements and conventions, according to al-Gharrawi.

'Urgent need'

"Today we urgently need in Iraq a court run by judges specialised in dealing with human rights violations," Commission member Salama al-Khafajy told Mawtani. "This was one of our most important demands as a commission concerned with Iraqis' rights."

The Commission will work alongside the court in a complementary and co-ordinating role, following up on human rights violations and presenting the court a complete file on these abuses so it can investigate them and deliver appropriate sentences, she said.

This communication will give "solid momentum" to Iraqi efforts to bring justice to human rights abuses and develop the state of human rights in the country, she said.

"The new Iraq has gone a long way to instil the principles of human rights despite all challenges, but the road ahead is still long, and there is much hard work before us," al-Khafajy said.

In the coming months, Iraq must reconsider some of the legal statutes that the Commission believes contradict with human rights standards, for example article 41 of the Iraqi penal code (law 111 of 1969), which gives the husband the right to discipline his wife by beating, she said.

"We also need to re-activate some of the appropriate laws, and ensure they are applied and respected, as well as enact new legislation in the human rights arena," al-Khafajy said.

Ali Shubbar, a member of the parliamentary committee on human rights, echoed her sentiment.

"I endorse any step that serves the state of human rights in Iraq, and forming a court in this respect […] will do just that, strengthen the principle of justice, and enhance the rule of law and institutions," he told Mawtani.

Adopting plans, programmes and measures that spread awareness among citizens of their constitutional and human rights will strengthen the culture of human rights in Iraq, according to Shubbar.

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  • READER COMMENTS

    محمود مصطفى

    2012-12-4

    The state should guarantee the rights of the individual. These rights include the right to lead a decent life, to enjoy freedom and independence, the freedom of opinion and expression. The Iraqi government must respect all the rights of the individuals in society, especially in a society that seeks to turn the page of the past and to look for the future. In fact, such rights help the citizens to live in dignity in their homeland. This would make the citizen love his country all the more and allow him to enjoy a decent life and total independence. Therefore, the Iraqi government must provide all the guarantees in order to ensure these rights that the community seeks to achieve. Moreover, the civil society organizations must work on preserving these rights. The most important of these rights are the freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of opinion. Thus, the Iraqi government must guarantee the freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. The latter convey a good image for all developed nations that enjoy the brightest eras of freedom. Iraq must work on respecting human rights and punishing any person or institution which does not respect human rights.

  • حاتم محمد

    2012-12-4

    It is imperative for the Iraqi government to respect human rights and to establish a civil state based on the universal principles of public liberties. Indeed, the authorities are supposed to ensure the citizens' right to the freedom of expression. On the other hand, the latter must respect the laws of the state. The Iraqi government should seek to enact laws to criminalize the violations of human rights, especially in prisons. The opposition parties must be allowed to express their opinions without any harassment by the government. The competent authorities must also penalize the individuals and the groups which violate human rights laws. In fact, there are some radical religious groups that believe in militant ideas. They do not hesitate to resort to violence in order to create a climate of sectarianism. We must tackle these issues in order to find the appropriate solutions. The only way out is the promotion of human rights principles. Thus, the human rights should become a subject in all types of educational institutions so as to encourage students to respect those principles. The Iraqi students should learn the importance of respecting the divergent opinions of the others. Iraq is in desperate need for the creation of a future generation where people respect the human rights of the others. In so doing, the coming generations would be able to deal with the region’s variables. The national institutions and the civil society should play a leading role in this respect. The human rights are commonly violated by armed groups as well as the state institutions, especially in prisons. Thus, the Iraqi government must be concerned with such violations. The perpetrators must be punished through legal institutions.

  • كمال عبد الهادي

    2012-12-4

    We are supposed to enjoy the age of human rights. However, the peoples of the whole Arab region were denied their basic rights in prior periods with the presence of dictatorships which strived to curb public liberties. After the eruption of the Arab revolutions, the so-called Arab Spring, the people showed a significant awareness of their denied freedoms and rights. Therefore, the Arab authorities are supposed to respect the basic human rights which are guaranteed by our religion. In this respect, the Iraqi Government should ensure the respect of the public liberties. The regime should not restrict such fundamental rights as the freedom of opinion, movement, and press which might criticize the Government. On the other hand, the latter should ensure social justice, which is a public demand. The civil society organizations are also expected to support this trend through helping the Iraqis claim their freedoms and preserve them.

  • نادر محمد

    2012-12-4

    The Iraqis have suffered a lot because their humanity and the rights they have like the rest of human beings, were not respected. The latter have the right to express opinion and not to be subjected to oppression, murder, intimidation and torture. In fact, the rule of Saddam, the American colonization and terrorism have spread corruption and increased tension between the different parties in order to shed blood and raise objections that generate dissension between the different sects in the Iraqi community. The word “they” here means that they have become accustomed to these strangers who found in Iraq an outlet to exploit it and take advantage of its wealth. Thus, they sowed hatred among its sons until they lost their human rights. Therefore, the Iraqi government has to unite the Iraqis and stand by the people, teach them, raise their awareness of patriotism and their usurped rights and work on eradicating whoever wants to harm Iraqis. In so doing, they aim to help Iraqis inherit from each other the new democratic life in which they enjoy the freedom of opinion and the maintenance of the Iraqi woman. The latter should assist men in the process of renaissance for the sake of a better and brighter future while they inherit the principle of respecting the human rights of Iraqis, God willing.

  • جواد يعقوب

    2012-12-1

    There is no doubt that the terrorism has grown in most of the countries of the Arab world, especially Iraq, and this makes us more suspicious because terrorism was not a word that we say on our tongues but rather it is an alarming nightmare that quickly realizes its objectives. The objectives of terrorism are represented in the elimination of Iraq's Arabism and making it a terrorist state first and foremost. However, this issue took a long time, which angered every Arab and non-Arab. How much did these people sacrifice in order to live in peace? Nevertheless, in vain, the authentic Iraqi people will remain fighting with a stone fist. However, who will they fight against? They are fighting against everyone who has all the modern weapons that destroy their homeland Iraq and break forth upon the Iraqi citizens as well as blur out all the features of Arabism in Iraq, making Iraq a terrorist state and making it a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, and al-Qaeda. The victims of Iraq that fell as a result of the destructive operations of the terrorists, must be considered. For this reason, we call upon the United Nations to denounce the need to help the Iraqi citizens and provide them with all assistance to rebuild their home. We also call on the authorities responsible for the human rights to struggle and call for the sake of Iraq and for creating a new future for the country. What personally saddens me is what we see on the television such as the images of the Iraqi victims who are blameless, let alone the truth itself.. Have some compassion towards the people of Iraq.

  • علي محمد

    2012-11-28

    You reap what you sow! The Legislative Council of the Iraqi laws has to put this saying as an actual item in the law of fighting terrorism. Everyone who got involved, participated, prepared and executed has to be caught and the punishment has to be applied on him immediately without any delay or fear, because what is taken by force can only be regained by force. This way, the punishment will be like the action committed.

  • طه سالم

    2012-11-28

    There is a popular saying in which many people believe and it comes across in our daily life constantly. The saying is: hit the weak and the strong will fear. As such, we stress that the Iraqi government should come up with unrelenting and very harsh laws that cannot be repealed. Severe punishment and even execution must be imposed on anyone who has been involved in any terrorist plot, helped implement it or contributed to it in any manner, regardless of the success of such a plot or lack thereof. As soon as the involved culprits are identified, they should be punished at once and punishment must be carried out in a public place. This will help Iraqis know that they have a strong government that cannot be threatened or intimidated. Similarly, any terrorist who allows himself to carry out such actions will know that their end will be as such. The proposed sanctions and punishment will have positive implications since those who fall prey for extremism could realize early on that the path they are about to pursue is filled with hardship and could claim their lives. The Iraqi people have a pressing need, which is to feel that they are secure and are not targeted by terrorism every minute, day and night. What matters in this regard is the type of punishment, whereby if deterrent punishment is adopted, terrorism will come to an end. On the other hand, if farcical punishment is adopted and if it takes too long to adjudicate and deliver a verdict on terrorism cases, we will guarantee ourselves that terrorism will continue to thrive and exist. This is because there are major loopholes exploited by lawyers that result in commutation of sentences and may enable terrorists to smuggle their families.

  • عبد الله مصطفى

    2012-11-28

    We all wish all the best for Iraq, which is an Arab nation that has been the cradle of civilization and the fountainhead of knowledge and scholars. We as Arabs must all provide constant support to our Iraqi brethren by allowing them to seek knowledge in our countries and by providing them with financial, military and moral support. We should also help them in eradicating ideological terrorism and sectarian extremism. But this cannot be accomplished through military means alone. Instead, education and education only can help us accomplish that. Likewise, we can accomplish eradicating terrorism and extremism by spreading our tolerant religion, which aims to spread love and peace across the whole world. In this regard, many Gulf States are providing Iraq with financial support in order to eradicate terrorism. Arab countries constitute a single entity and we should therefore stand by any country that faces troubles. But all of this cannot happen without having social justice and equality in all aspects of life and eliminating corruption. The foregoing things are all related to human rights, which are longstanding concepts for which Islam advocates in all aspects of life. Unfortunately, Muslims do not advocate for human rights at the time being. Justice and equality bring about a nation’s revival and advancement. Hence, we must now rise up and demand our rights and the rights of our children. Even if we have no hopes of leading a decent life, we must revolt in order to ensure that our children and grandchildren will not live amidst an environment filled with the same kind of corruption and social and moral decline in which we were submerged by our despot rulers. Currently, Iraq is on the right track in terms of promoting human rights. For instance, the Iraqi constitution made all Iraqis equal and does not differentiate between Sunnis, Shiites or Kurds, and that is what will catapult Iraq to the league of elite nations.

  • عبد الكريم زبدي

    2012-11-28

    All Arabs want to stand by Iraq. Iraq has been under the rule of a despot for over half a century. Now that Iraq has embarked on revival, the nation is facing a number of problems in all aspects of life. For one, the country is facing an omnipresent and ubiquitous threat that is always impending. This threat is the sectarian and ethnic strife among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and this situation provides a fertile breeding ground for terrorists. Thus, terrorism must be confronted stubbornly and forcefully, and it must also be confronted by building universities, schools, hospitals and development everywhere. Likewise, human rights must also be respected as per the instructions of Islam and our noble prophet. Having respect for human rights is the fundamental condition that governs the advancement of nations, and we should all support Iraq in this regard.

  • ابراهيم

    2012-11-27

    Currently, it is very important that the Iraqi government joins forces with the ministry of human rights and other concerned agencies in order to completely eliminate terrorism in all its forms and shapes. Terrorism has become a frightful specter that endangers all forms of civilization and security across Iraq. Iraq should now become stable, particularly since foreign aggression has evacuated, which was a pretext for terrorist groups that they used to justify their assaults on citizens. The recently found mass graves highlight the extent of brutality that innocent citizens were subjected to. Thus, every person who belongs to these groups and attempts to cause intimidation or perpetrate any act of terror must be severely punished. We can see a remarkable decline in terror activities after imposing deterrent punishments, such as execution, against these destructive individuals. This is because terrorists violate and threaten the most basic rights of human beings who want nothing more than to live in their homeland and have no desire to harm anyone. In addition, terrorism is forbidden by all religions and all laws.

  • هلال

    2012-11-24

    Man is created with many rights in society, depriving him of any of his rights is considered a crime for which any person who tries to commit it has to be punished. The government of Iraq and everyone in it has to respect the rights of the Iraqi citizen after the violations that happened to the Iraqi people in the recent period of the U.S. occupation and the bad psychological state it caused, also the violation of terrorism to the human rights of Iraqi citizens and also the children in Iraq. The government has to put laws against anyone that violates the rights of any individual in the state of Iraq. If a person who violated a human right of an Iraqi citizen gets punished properly, he will be an example to any person who tries to do so. This improves the morale of the citizens after the abuses that happened to them. It is the duty of everyone to respect human rights. Iraq's attempt to keep pace with the global development must first begin by providing human and legal rights among citizens and prove to them that anyone violating these rights is exposing himself to legal accountability and he will be punished for this crime.

  • عبدالله عدنان

    2012-11-24

    The Iraqi Government should do its best to improve the security situation which could improve the living conditions in Iraq. It should also work on giving Iraqi citizens all their rights and avoid neglecting them. Despite watching all these reports that have spread and which dealt with the improving conditions in Iraq in terms of security, this has not prevented the continuing violations of human rights in general. However, the truth is that its forms and methods have changed. The executions have spread once again. Violence and oppression have spread too. Iraqis are deprived of health care which is one of the basic forms of taking interest in rights. Thus, we must take an interest in Iraqis and their rights, as they have been long subjected to injustice and tyranny.

  • خيرالله

    2012-11-24

    Some human rights advocators consider that the death penalty is cruel. In fact, as terrorist acts are spreading in Iraq, these people do not look from the perspective of the family of the victim who has been subjected to the violence of terrorists which claimed his life. In fact, there is not a more deserved penalty for these people than the death sentence to punish these people for their heinous acts.

  • عبدالمحسن عبدالوهاب

    2012-11-24

    Nations cannot be considered as developed if they possess sources of income such as petroleum and industry only. In fact, any nation, which is endowed with such fertile resources that bring inexhaustible income but does neither respect the rights and will of people nor human rights nor abide by international conventions which guarantee the rights of individuals in the state is really a backward nation that does not deserve to be among the developed countries. In Iraq, one of the most important means that guarantees the respect and maintenance of human rights is when Government officials draft the laws that ensure the rights of all people. These same laws will also punish severely and harshly whoever thinks of carrying out any terrorist act, murder, theft, hit or violation by any means against the rights of others. In so doing, the Government wants to maintain the safety and security of citizens all over the country. The Government should start by setting a constitution that maintains the rights and freedom of citizens starting from the freedom of belief ending with the freedom of managing private properties. In addition, these laws must be applied to young and old people as well as the rich and the poor in order to ensure the success of the country in maintaining justice and equality. In this respect, applying the law should not exclude anyone for political reasons or because of his wealth. It should equally not allow violations through bribery in order to break the law. All the latter conditions are not permitted so as to prevent anyone from undermining the security and safety of citizens as well as human rights.

  • dawood

    2012-11-14

    A very good step to achieve the principals of human rights in Iraq, is to limit the random arrests and compensate those who were not found guilty in a democratic country.

  • محسن جهاد

    2012-11-14

    There is a message of rights to my master and sponsor Imam Ali ibn al-Hussein al-Sajjad (the one who prostrates to God), peace be on him! With regard to rights, I support him if it was for the rights of a human or even someone else. My master and sponsor Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (Peace be upon them) said: there are two kinds of humans, either your brother in religion or a brother in humanity. So, in both cases, he deserves all the rights.