First independent human rights commission formed in Iraq

Among the responsibilities of Iraq's human rights commission is to promote a culture of human rights in educational curricula. Above, students are seen at a school in Baghdad. [Mohammed Ameen/Reuters]

Among the responsibilities of Iraq's human rights commission is to promote a culture of human rights in educational curricula. Above, students are seen at a school in Baghdad. [Mohammed Ameen/Reuters]

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Iraq's parliament Monday (April 9th) established the first independent human rights commission in the country, also approving the selection of its 11 members and three substitutes.

Voting on commission members and the establishment of the commission was the result of intense and exhaustive efforts made by Iraq's parliamentary committee on human rights over the course of the year, said Salim al-Jubury, the chairman of the committee.

"During that period and through the committee [meeting held to select] the commission's council, which includes members of parliament, legal experts and civil activists, the committee screened and checked the resumes of 3,085 individuals who had submitted applications to become commission members, and the final choice was made to select 14 candidates," he told Mawtani.

"The selected candidates come from different social backgrounds, they have long experience in the field of human rights and are well known for their integrity, which encouraged the 181 parliament members attending [Monday's] session to give them a clear majority vote," he said.

The law governing the new commission, the Independent High Commission for Human Rights, was approved by Iraq's parliament in 2008. It stipulates that the council of commissioners be composed of 11 full members and three reserve members. According to the law, women should make up no less than one third the number of council members. Minorities must represented by at least one full member and one reserve member.

The law also limits the period of membership in the council to four years and states that the commission must be an administratively and financially independent body that enjoys wide powers of observation, follow-up and investigation.

Commission powers

Among the commission's powers is the right to receive complaints from individuals, groups and civil society institutions on human rights violations, the right to investigate these complaints, and the right to file suits and refer them to the prosecutor general.

It also has the power to visit prisons and correctional to meet with convicts and detainees to investigate any evidence of human rights violations and to inform the authorities to take legal measures if evidence is found.

"The commission will assume numerous tasks, such as preparing studies and research, submitting recommendations and expressing opinions and proposals on issues related to reinforcing and developing the principle of human rights," Ali Shubbar of parliament's human rights committee told Mawtani.

"Also among its responsibilities is the promotion of a culture of human rights by introducing this culture into learning and educational curricula, and organising conferences, seminars, artistic and social activities, and media programmes, as well as submitting an annual report to parliament containing a general evaluation of the state of human rights in Iraq," he said.

"The commission will strive to co-ordinate and co-operate with the civil society organisations operating in the area of human rights in Iraq and maintain contacts with independent non-governmental international human rights institutions," Shubbar said.

A 'historic accomplishment'

Kamil Ameen, spokesperson for Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights described the establishment of the commission as "a historic accomplishment".

"Establishing the commission does not mean there is no longer a need for the human rights ministry, as there is no article in the law on the commission indicating that the latter would replace the ministry, because although there is an overlap in the work of the two institutions, there are still some cases which strictly fall within our ministry's specialisation," he told Mawtani.

"Some of those cases which are under our jurisdiction are the fate of the Iraqi prisoners and the missing, documentation of the former regime's violations, mass graves and the victims of terrorism, but the most important issue is preparing periodic reports on Iraq's compliance with international human rights conventions," Ameen said.

Human rights activists also welcomed the step.

"I welcome this step of establishing the commission, and feel satisfied that the members of the council of commissioners represent different faiths and ethnicities, that they are independent from any partisan or political affiliation, and they are at a high level of professionalism and competence," activist Hana Edwar told Mawtani.

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    ابو سهام

    2012-5-17

    I ask Allah, the All-Compassionate and the All-Merciful, that all the days of the Iraqis will be days of goodness and days of patience. The fate of the defiled al-Maliki will be like the rest of the leaders who have tired of their countries with all of their things. I invite all of the Iraqis to keep insisting on their rights. The right of the Iraqi is important because even the elder man, the patient, the elder women, or young child have no rights. Even the retired people, among them the elderly, have no way to enjoy their lives, live free and dignified lives in their last days. However, the Maliki government, even from that point, did not give them the chance to live and be comfortable people. I just want to ask him, what have you done for Iraq and the Iraqis so far? Nothing. What is important about all of this is that Iraq is a country of goodness and must remain so. We hope that Iraq will become better than it was in the past. I wish that all the days of the Iraqis would be good. The government of Nouri al-Maliki is an unsuccessful government and does not do anything at all. Therefore, all of Iraq wants to change and, God willing, the future is all good, and all of its days are happy and carefree. O Allah, my Lord, save Iraq from the north to the south, Amen, O Lord of the universe.

  • عبدالرقيب احمد

    2012-5-17

    There are no rights for the Iraqi man and everything the Iraqis are doing regarding acts against the terrorists are good acts. I call upon Allah for them to have all the welfare and success. I invite everyone who has anything to do with human rights to rid the Iraqi people of that big problem and that Allah the Almighty is with them in everything they do. The Human Rights Commission must be fabricating an important issue in order to rid Iraq of all these problems. I want every Iraqi to stand by the Iraqis. O Allah, my Lord, save Iraq from all distress and from all anguish. The Iraqi Government is a despicable government that does not want the welfare of Iraq and the Iraqis ever, and everything the Iraqi Government is doing, including the works of malignancy through which it wants to harm the Iraqi people, and the Iraqis have endured much. They do not want to live the tragedy much more than before.

  • ابو ايناس

    2012-5-16

    Human rights in Iraq are lost; they don't exist; they are totally absent. The human rights in Iraq are destroyed, especially after the suffering of the Iraqis and with the absence of law throughout the past decades. The most basic rights, which are guaranteed by all heavenly legislation, religions and international covenants of human rights, are not available in Iraq. Human rights in Iraq have not witnessed any noteworthy improvement after the fall of the former regime. Even though the law of the temporary state's administration was issued, which contains many items ensuring and guaranteeing human rights and confirming the commitment of Iraq to the international laws and covenants, yet these legal items are just words on paper, without actual application. Those texts are just like the texts in the Iraqi constitutions, which have been in place since the foundation of the Iraqi state until this very day. That means they are just texts without any application or enforcement mechanism. The main problem is quite clear, in the fact that the powers which signed this law are the same ones that break the law and force the practical politics through clear and well-known methods to everybody. Even though the formation of organizations and associations that work in the civil society has become a positive phenomenon, yet they suffer from many negative points, which are social inheritances. Those negativities are due to the lack of experience and the banishment of the Iraqi mind in general. If there were really human rights in Iraq, why do we see the prisons full of innocent detainees who were only arrested based on suspicion? Is there a law in the whole world that arrests people based on suspicion and puts them in prisons for long years without knowing the reasons for the arrest? These are the human rights in the new Iraq; thousands of detainees reside in prisons without a trial or charges. Some of them have been waiting to be released for months; those who are released and not found guilty were even forced to find a sponsor as a condition. In addition, there are many wrong solutions to the daily issues of the citizens.

  • قاسم ابو علي

    2012-5-14

    Everyone knows that human rights in Iraq are denied, or at best incomplete. In fact, the Iraqi citizens feel that they are deprived of the basic human rights. They are denied their rights to get services, to respond to their demands and to implement measures that could provide them with comfort. For this reason, we note that everyone is suffering from the deprivation of many of the human rights which should be granted to people. The latter suffered a lot from violence, terrorism and brutal, horrible, cruel crimes. Indeed, Iraqis are deprived of stability, comfort, safety, tranquility and peace of mind. In this respect, many Iraqi people feel that they go through injustice, oppression, deprivation, dereliction and neglect in many important and necessary aspects of life. They are denied the rights that could facilitate their affairs and lives. The Iraqi citizens are deprived of their basic human rights. Therefore, more serious and effective work has to be done in order to preserve human rights in Iraq. We must establish many humanitarian bodies, including Governmental, non-governmental and other types of organizations that could provide comfort for all the Iraqi citizens. The latter is asking for nothing but more employment opportunities and electricity. In fact, these services are guaranteed in most countries. Indeed, this is one of the basic rights of the citizens of Iraq. We also call on the authorities to provide all the materials of the ration card for each Iraqi citizen. They should also reduce the prices of goods and provide oil and gasoline at reasonable prices. On the other hand, we expect the Government to eradicate terrorism, corruption, ignorance, illiteracy, and poverty. In short, authorities must show more efforts to improve the situation in Iraq. The citizens of Iraq are eligible to feel and enjoy human rights.

  • عثمان

    2012-5-8

    Terrorism is a confused ideology that is bent on self-destruction first of all and then the destruction of others. The Arab as well as the western youths are being dragged away by violence. Some of them look for a religious cover in order to engage in the killing of others. They are mentally deranged people, and they need a long psychological treatment in order to get rid of the diseases of our day, which include religious fanaticism and immoral violence. The killing of innocent children is immoral. Under the pretext that the West and its armies have occupied Muslim countries, they engage in the killing of children and women, and they apply the law of the jungle on everyone that does not follow them and they slaughter them like sheep.

  • احمد عبد الرزاق

    2012-4-27

    The process of the organization of laws related to the respect for the rights and freedoms of people in Iraq are important and appropriate issues for protecting the dignity of the humans from aggression and marginalization, as people have been created free. It is their right to have their personal rights in behaving freely and expressing their views on various issues, including the right of criticism of things that are not in the right direction, correcting things when they get out of their allotted scope and working on standing against injustice and tyranny practiced by some government agencies against the members of the society, and for the embodiment of the issue of human rights on the ground in Iraq. One of the Iraqi ministries has been formed to take on the task of protecting people's rights among the Iraqi people from abuse or aggression. In spite of this ministry doing its work only, there are many acts of violation of the personal rights, especially with regard to demonstrations taking place in the country, which are considered among the rights of the people to express their criticism or rejection of some of the inhumane practices and injustices, which are practiced against them by the government whether intentionally or unintentionally so that the masses deliver their opinions to the state officials in order to solve matters and problems. However, we see that there is complete ignorance, great marginalization and strangulation of the freedoms of people in the country. Most of those of who demonstrate peacefully are confronted with violence and abuse by the security forces and then they are thrown into prison as a result of coming out in order to express their opinions as well as their exposure to instances of torture, beatings and abuse within the detention centers.

  • رائد

    2012-4-27

    Human rights are non-existent, except at a very simple level in Iraq and in most of the Arab countries. It is the proof of what we see of the citizen’s lack of basic services that are supposed to be enjoyed by any citizen anywhere in the world. Where is the right of the citizen to education? Education is very low. Is that the knowledge which he is supposed to obtain? Even the illiteracy rate in Iraq is very high because the government's interest in the educational aspect is very bad. As for his right to receive electricity services, a large percentage of the Iraqis suffer from lack of electricity in their homes due to the negligence of the Iraqi Government regarding the updating of the networks and power plants. Is electricity one of the rights of the citizens? Otherwise, how would his life go on and then come to his right to the provision of water and sanitation? The Iraqi citizen is not provided with clean water and does not have sewage systems. Even if they exist, they are outdated and dilapidated, and even the food commodities the citizens are suffering from due to their high prices and lack of availability for the citizens. Where are the rights of the poor citizen who suffers more than any ordinary citizen? He may pass a day without obtaining any food. In addition to that, he does not get the health services that he is supposed to have priority over others regarding access to them, as well as the rights of the orphans and the disabled who can find the necessary care abroad, provided that the developed medical care and the Centers there have had the required opportunity to develop themselves and not experienced the negligence that is suffered by the orphans and the disabled in Iraq. The rights of the citizens in obtaining the services of security are, of course, lacking in Iraq and the evidence is the large number of terrorist acts and other services. Where is the government officials’ provision of services to the citizens? In the advanced countries, everyone has rights and privacy, and even the animals have rights. How could the neglect of the human rights happen in Iraq and all the blame falls on the government that fails to provide any of the rights of any citizen to provide good services?

  • علي احمد

    2012-4-27

    Iraq is a country that has just started its first steps towards a new Iraq and as it is said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, I think that the issue of human rights or their application in Iraq still has a long way to go and requires more effort and procedures and issuance of laws. It also requires more time for the dissemination of human rights first and to find out what are these human rights, especially in our country, which is new to the experience of such sensitive subjects, which we look forward to and because of the past three decades. We do not know anything about human rights and how they should be applied because Iraq was absent from the world and was in isolation. And this isolation deprived the Iraqi people of the most basic rights because of the policies of the former regime that were pursued in the years of his reign. So, Iraq is still working on the application of human rights at the present time, but has not yet reached what all of us wish for in the new Iraq. This requires intensified efforts to promote the culture of human rights and preserve their dignity, and the institutions concerned must also be working on such an issue through intensifying their efforts and programs for the deployment of this new culture in our society and also spreading it among the institutions working towards the application of the law and stimulating them with the question on the observance of human rights and also, the dissemination of this culture among the segments of the population so they will look at this new experience and be prepared to deal with it.

  • عباس ياسري

    2012-4-27

    I think that the issue of human rights in Iraq is a thorny issue because of what we see, including the conflicting statements emanating from here to support human rights in Iraq and start again to demand the implementation of human rights and apply them in a practical way because it is poor in this country and according to my point of view, I think that Iraq is a country that did not reach the point of applying the human rights agenda. Strictly and correctly, there are a lot of organizations that have started working in this regard, but Iraq is still in the first journey of change and moving towards the new democratic life which, despite its actual birth, will not be able to reach the stage of perfection overnight to apply the concepts of democracy, which generate the concepts of human rights that we hope to see in our country as soon as possible.

  • ثائر عادل

    2012-4-26

    Regardless of the challenges, Iraq will march forward, and regardless of the difficulties it faces, Iraq will witness an ideal future, which we Iraqis are looking forward to. Our country will become a model of success which the whole world will look up to with admiration and respect, in view of this experiment that will be born after an admittedly very difficult labor, but in the end, the birth of the new Iraq will be accomplished, an Iraq that will be stable with a promising future, Allah-willing. This will restore Iraq to its normal position among the countries of the world and in the region as well.

  • الهاجري

    2012-4-24

    These are human rights in the new Iraq: thousands of prisoners held in Iraqi prisons, without being tried or charged. Some of them have been waiting for months to be released; but some of those who have been released, who did not prove to be guilty, are asked to find a sponsor as a condition of their release from prison, not to mention much of the wrong treatment of the daily issues and affairs of the citizen.

  • ياسر عباس

    2012-4-24

    It is very common to hear about the violations of Human rights in Iraq. Indeed, human rights violations seem to be endless because they happen every day through renewed methods. It should be concluded that human rights are a mere illusion.

  • علي

    2012-4-24

    In spite of the enactment of the Provisional Administration Law, the situation of human rights in Iraq has not witnessed a significant improvement after the demise of the former regime. In fact, this legislation includes a lot of articles to ensure and safeguard human rights. It served only to confirm Iraq's compliance with international laws and conventions. Indeed, they are not implemented on the ground, just like all the rest of the legislation that was stated in the Constitutions of Iraq. Since the founding of the Iraqi State, these laws had never been applied on the ground since they lacked any mechanisms for implementation. However, the fundamental problem is that the parties which ratified these laws are violating them themselves. They aim to impose a fait accompli on the people through a well known and clear strategy. In spite of that, the formation of organizations and associations working in the field of civil society has become a positive phenomenon. Still, the latter are suffering from many drawbacks, partly due to the social legacies, the lack of experience and the general underdevelopment of the mentality of the Iraqi people. Had we respected the rules of human rights we would not have seen Iraqi prisons full of innocent detainees. The latter were arrested on the grounds of mere suspicion. How on earth do they arrest people out of suspicion and detain them for many years without knowing the reason for their arrest?

  • بشير عبدالحق

    2012-4-23

    After signing the Anti-Torture Agreement by Iraq in 2008, it committed that all the Iraqi ministries and institutions must consider the criteria of the human rights. Hence, it was necessary to stress the importance of the visit of the UN special torture commissioner, during which he would hold workshops to increase and strengthen the culture and awareness in the prisons' management and urging the prisons to comply with all the standards that are related to the human rights. This visit represented an opportunity to refute all the allegations and accusations that are made to deceive the local and international public opinion. The Ministry of Human Rights must, in collaboration with the other ministries, spread the culture of human rights and identify the violations that may face any group of the people. It should also put in place the necessary plans to acquaint the officials and workers with the banned violations to the human rights and the mechanism of decision making. We have to complete this work within a specific time frame, because the Iraqis naturally have better potential for achievement as a team than any other state, particularly the USA. He also came to learn more about the achievements of the ministry in the field of the protection of human rights and to transform these objectives from strategic objectives into executive and realistic objectives in the light of the circumstances to which the Iraq citizen is subjected, including oppression, injustice, and corruption. The Iraqi citizen needs fairness and application of the laws that protect the citizenship and human rights in all fields.

  • ضياء

    2012-4-19

    My view regarding the situation of human rights in Iraq is that they are not doing very well, as many Iraqis do not enjoy many human rights, which encompass many areas of life for the citizens. As such, human rights are non-existent, and they are not being dealt with in accordance to sound principles and specific criteria, which is why we find that there are many displaced and homeless persons as well as poor and unemployed people. The Iraqi people lack many of the rights that would help them live a respectable life. Neglect and negligence are the two traits that characterize the government and all the relevant authorities, whose responsibility it is to serve the Iraqi people and to secure for them all their legitimate rights. However, what is taking place on the ground is that the Iraqi people are in need of all the rights, and they should be compensated for what had happened to them in the past and is still happening. The government has to carry out its responsibility vis-à-vis the people, and provide them with all the necessities that are not available to them, whether it be protecting the rights of women, children, disabled people, the unemployed, the sick, the displaced persons, widows, orphans or the poor, and it should provide the services that facilitate the lives of the Iraqi citizens, such as electricity, drinking water, the sewage system, good-quality food, monthly salaries, fuel and gas, in addition to improving the standards of education, healthcare and medication, and other forms of assistance that should be provided to the affected Iraqi families.

  • شاكر

    2012-4-18

    As far as I am concerned, Iraq is one of the countries which have achieved change since several years ago. In fact, with each change, some problems and differences may emerge and bring about disturbance for some time. Yet, I think that this is really normal given that in the end everyone will be aware of the change and how to deal with it appropriately away from making trouble. In fact, I am confident that everyone loves Iraq and works on serving the interests of the country and its people. Therefore, I have a positive perception with all the standards about the future of this country. Indeed, since several years ago, Iraq has started to follow the right path and was able to overcome a lot of problems safely that followed the change in Iraq, thanks be to Allah, although a lot of corrupt people have tried to destabilize the internal scene in Iraq and cause the collapse of this country. This issue has been carried out by neighboring countries which did not want the success of the democratic experience in the new Iraq. However, Allah has thwarted the plans of these countries which were adopting terrorism. They have added fuel to fire. However, Iraq is today standing on its own two feet once again thanks to Allah and the determination of its good people. Thus, I feel very optimistic about the future of my dear country, Iraq, which will witness more stability in the various fields. For instance, today, there is stability in terms of security after the eradication of the remnants of terrorism, the Takfiri members and the members of the sectarian militias. In addition, there is an economic stability which has been revitalized thanks to the security stability.

  • محمود النسما

    2012-4-17

    The Iraqi Government has shown the extent of its abject failure in terms of providing the services to the Iraqi citizens in addition to the default, neglect and the great decline as well as the occurring of the amount of corruption that exists frequently recently between the members of the government and the associate members. For this reason, my view of the government is the view of any Iraqi citizen who is deeply disappointed for having chosen this failed government which did not provide any benefit to the Iraqi citizens. They are just a band working for their own interests, and forgetting their duties that are necessary and must be done for the benefit of the Iraqi people, who elected them because they made a lot of promises that were discovered to be just false promises which have nothing to do with the reality of what is happening which is just operations of theft of the money of the Iraqi people and their deprivation of their most basic legitimate rights, for example, the provision of the power supply, the rationing and the provision of, and making, employment opportunities available for many young Iraqis. There exist as well poverty, hunger, corruption, abuse and worsening of the supply of a lot of services to the citizens including building, construction, reconstruction, housing estates, schools, hospitals, clinics, and homes to care for the orphaned children, elderly and disabled care home, and helping the widows who have no breadwinner. All of these things should be better done in order to provide comfort for the people of Iraq, especially after the long suffering and the painful and harsh conditions undergone by the people, and not build mallslng or parks or plant roses while the Iraqi people need what is more important and very necessary for their living conditions.