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.
"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.