Annual Report: Iraq 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Iraq 2011

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  • Riyadh Mohammad Saleh al-'Uqaibi, a former army officer, died on 12 or 13 February at the Muthanna airport prison. Arrested in late September 2009, he was alleged to have been beaten so severely under interrogation that he sustained broken ribs, liver damage and internal bleeding. His body was returned to his family weeks later with a death certificate giving heart failure as the cause of death.
  • Two unnamed detainees died in US custody at Camp Cropper on 27 March and 12 April, before it was transferred to the Iraqi government. The USF-I announced that autopsies were being conducted but in both cases the cause and circumstances of death had not been disclosed by the end of 2010.

Trials of former Ba'ath party officials

The Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT) continued to try former senior members of the Ba'ath party as well as military and other officials in the government of Saddam Hussain, toppled in 2003, who were accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other grave offences. Trials failed to meet international fair trial standards; the SICT lacked independence and was said by lawyers and judges to be influenced by political interference.

  • In October, two former government ministers - 74-year-old Tareq 'Aziz, the former Foreign Affairs Minister; and Sa'doun Shakir, former Interior Minister - as well as 'Abed Hamoud, Saddam Hussain's private secretary, were sentenced to death by the SICT after being convicted of participating in the elimination of Shi'a religious parties.

Human rights violations by US forces

US forces in Iraq committed serious human rights violations, including killings of civilians.

  • 'Omar 'Abdullah and his wife were killed on 10 March when US troops opened fire on their car in Baghdad's al-Iskan neighbourhood. A US military statement was reported to have said that the couple were killed during a joint US-Iraqi security operation and that there would be a joint investigation; no further information was released.

Thousands of classified files were published by Wikileaks. These showed, among other things, that US troops manning security roadblocks had shot dead many Iraqi civilians in previous years and that, contrary to their denials, the US military authorities had sought to keep a count of the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the conflict in Iraq. Revised estimates put the total number of civilian casualties in the conflict in Iraq between 2004 and 2009 at 66,081.

Violence against women and girls

Women were targeted for violence by armed groups, and women who did not adhere to a strict dress code were under threat. Women also suffered violence within the family and were inadequately protected under Iraqi law and in practice. Many women and girls were subject to harmful practices, including forced and early marriage.

In October, the Human Rights Ministry reported that at least 84 women had been killed in "honour killings" in 2009 - not including the Kurdistan region. It reiterated its call for legal changes, including amendments to Article 409 of the Penal Code, which provides that any man who kills his wife or female relative for surprising her in the act of adultery should receive no more than a three-year prison term. No change to the law was made.

Refugees and internally displaced people

Around 1.5 million displaced Iraqis were said to be living as refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other countries in the region. At least 1.5 million others were internally displaced, including about 500,000 homeless people living in settlements or camps in extremely harsh conditions. Thousands of internally displaced people returned to their homes in the belief that security conditions had improved, but they faced many problems. Several European countries forcibly returned failed Iraqi asylum-seekers to Iraq, in direct breach of advice from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

Death penalty

At least 279 people were sentenced to death and at least 1,300 prisoners were said to be on death row, although the authorities generally did not disclose information about the death penalty. One execution was made public, but it appeared that the total number of executions was considerably higher.