IRAQ: UN Human Rights Committee issues final recommendations after second review of Iraq

Comité pour les droits de l’homme de l’ONU

The UN Human Rights Committee made several recommendations for the improvement of the human rights situation in Iraq at the end of its 2nd review during the 134th session held in Geneva between 28 February 2022 and 25 March 2022.

Composed of independent experts, the Human Rights Committee oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Iraq in 1971 through periodic reviews.

In this context, Alkarama submitted its shadow report to the Committee and brought attention of the Committee to the seriousness of the human rights situation in the country, expressed its main concerns and made recommendations.

The application of the Convention in domestic law

After Alkarama drew the experts’ attention to the reluctance of judges to apply international standards in domestic law, the Committee encouraged “the State party to further strengthen its efforts to raise awareness about the Covenant and its applicability in domestic law among judges, lawyers and prosecutors to ensure that its provisions are taken into account by the courts”.

The right to life

The Committee expressed concern about the frequency and application of the death penalty to crimes that do not meet the threshold of "most serious crimes" under article 6(2) of the Covenant.  It was therefore recommended that Iraq take “all measures necessary, including legislative action, to ensure that: (a) the death penalty is provided only for the most serious crimes; (b) it is never mandatory; and (c) pardon or commutation of the sentence is available in all cases, regardless of the crime committed.”

The prohibition of torture

The experts also reiterated their recommendations regarding the need to enshrine a definition of torture in full compliance with its definition in international law. Alkarama had indicated in its report that confessions extracted under duress and torture continue to be admitted as evidence by the courts and that allegations of ill-treatment and torture in detention are never taken into account. Iraq was therefore called upon to ensure that all such allegations are ”promptly, independently and thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators are brought to justice and adequately sanctioned and that victims receive full reparation”.

The right to liberty and security

The Committee also urged the State party to respect in practice all procedural guarantees and the Nelson Mandela Rules from the outset of the deprivation of liberty. As suggested by Alkarama, the experts recommended the State party to ensure that secret detention centers are closed or at least placed under government’s control.

Freedom of expression and association

Finally, the experts stressed the need for Iraq to take all necessary measures to respect freedom of expression and association, according particular attention to journalists and media workers about whom Alkarama had particularly expressed its concerns. It was recommended that the State party “conduct prompt and impartial investigations into allegations of threats or violence against journalists and protestors and should hold perpetrators accountable”.

The Iraqi government is requested to implement the recommendations within the time limit set by the Committee. Alkarama will monitor the effective follow-up of these recommendations and will pay particular attention to these recommendations’ implementation by the government.