Overview of 115th Session - Iraq
Iraq's fifth periodic report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights took place on 26th and 27th October 2015. The Iraqi delegation devoted much of their time elaborating on the threat from terrorism, which is facing the country; the opening statement was almost entirely devoted to the threat from ISIS and the large-scale military operations the government has had to deploy over recent decades. While acknowledging the difficult situation in Iraq, the experts recalled their concerns over the actual enforcement of the Covenant.
The experts sought answers as to why the delegation could not provide any examples of the Covenant being invoked in Iraq. The delegates replied that the Covenant was implemented in Iraq but for practical reasons, the judges preferred to refer to national law. The Committee also urged the delegation to abolish the death penalty – recalling that the imposition of the capital punishment frequently followed trials that did not respect fair trial guarantees.
Many of the questions also touched on the issue of ISIS controlling certain areas of the country. The State delegation confirmed the forced marriages of hundred of girls to ISIS members and the Committee asked what measures were being taken to assist the victims, particularly for those from the Yeizidi community, and to provide rehabilitation.
One of the experts noted the great efforts being made by the government to accommodate the 3 millions internal displaced persons but assessed that their needs had not been met noting that hundreds of thousands of them still live in precarious conditions.
The most disputed issues revolved around the questions of militias and secret detention facilities. The Iraqi delegation completely denied the existence of government-supported Shia militias killing Sunnis and refuted allegations regarding secret detention centres. The Committee noted the response of the delegation but indicated that they had received information in contradiction with those statements and requested further information which would disprove these allegations. Allegations of serious human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings, torture and abductions were also raised by Committee members, who requested the Iraqi government investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible in line with the legal framework.
On the issue of freedom of religion, the delegates confirmed that it was prohibited for Iraqi citizens to claim Baha'i faith and to convert from Islam to other religions. The chairperson, in his concluding remarks, underlined that freedom of religion was a fundamental right and that no exception should be made.
A plethora of other issues were also raised including violence against women, the abolition of the Human Rights Ministry, the independence of judges and the Counter-Terrorism Act of 2005.
The Concluding Observations for which the State should provide information on the implementation within one year, concern:
The next (6th) periodic report should be submitted by the State party by 6 November 2018