Human rights in post-invasion Iraq
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Politics and government of
Human rights in post-invasion Iraq have been the subject of concerns and controversies since the 2003 invasion. Concerns have been expressed about conduct by insurgents, the U.S.-led coalition forces and the Iraqi government. The U.S. is investigating several allegations of violations of international and internal standards of conduct in isolated incidents by its own forces and contractors. The UK is also conducting investigations of alleged human rights abuses by its forces. War crime tribunals and criminal prosecution of the numerous crimes by insurgents are likely years away. In late February 2009, the U.S. state department released a report on the human rights situation in Iraq, looking back on the past year (2008).
Abuses of Human Rights conducted by, or alleged to have been conducted by, Iraq-based insurgents US troops and/or terrorists include:
- Bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003 which killed the top U.N. representative in Iraq, 55-year-old Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian, who was also the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.1 22 UN staff members were killed and more than 100 injured in the explosion. The dead also included Nadia Younes, former Executive Director at World Health Organization (WHO) in charge of External Relations and Governing Bodies. The terrorist attack was condemned by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and denounced by the UN security council.2
South Korean translator Kim Sun-il beheaded by followers of al-Zarqawi.3
Tawhid and Jihad behead Bulgarian truck drivers Ivaylo Kepov and Georgi Lazov. Al-Jazeera broadcast the videotape containing the killing, but said the portion with the actual killing was too graphic to broadcast.4
Italian photographer, 52 year old Salvatore Santoro, beheaded in a video. Islamic Movement of Iraqi Mujahedeen claimed responsibility.3
Al-Iraqiya TV (Iraq) aired transcripts of confessions by Syrian intelligence officer Anas Ahmad Al-Issa and Iraqi terrorist Shihab Al-Sab'awi concerning their booby-trap operations, explosions, kidnappings, assassinations, and details of beheading training in Syria.5
Egyptian and Algerian envoys.
- Two Algerian Diplomats were reported to have been killed by Al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Qaeda in Iraq issued an Internet statement saying it killed two kidnapped Algerian diplomats, Ali Belaroussi and Azzedine Belkadi. “The court of al-Qaeda in Iraq has decided to carry out God’s verdict against the two diplomats from the apostate Algerian government ... and ordered to kill them,” said the statement, which was signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the al-Qaeda spokesman.6
- Egyptian Diplomat by Al-Qaida was reported to have been killed. Al-Qaida in Iraq posted on a web forum a statement that it killed Egyptian diplomat al-Sherif. Top Sunni cleric Mohamed Sayed Tantawi condemned the killing as a "crime against religion, morality and humanity and a crime that goes against honour and chivalry".7
The Al Askari Mosque bombing occurred on February 22, 2006 at approximately 6:55am local time (0355 UTC) at the Al Askari Mosque — one of the holiest sites in Shi'a Islam — in the Iraqi city of Samarra, some 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Baghdad. Although no injuries occurred in the blast, the bombing resulted in violence over the following days. Over 100 dead bodies with bullet holes were found on February 23, and at least 1658 people are thought to have been killed.
Video of the killing of four Russian diplomats kidnapped in Iraq appear on the Internet. A group called the Mujahideen Shura Council released the hostage video.9
Anba' Al Iraq News agency, Writers without Borders Organisation condemn the imprisonment of its staff member, Mr. Husain E. Khadir who was in charge of covering documentaries about the type of threats Kurdistan Federal region imposes to its Neighboring countries. Delegation of Human Rights Watch (HRW) released reports about torture in Iraq and repression of human rights and freedom of expression. HRW interviewed several detaineed writers and journalists to document such violation. Mr. Khadir was detained in Karkuk then moved to Arbil where Human Rights Watch (HRW) visited him in one of the detention places. Last year in Baghdad, the same writer suffered even worse when he escaped from Shiia militia, who seized his house and threw his family in the streets, which was considered as a serious threat directed against his life. The move is widely exercised in Iraq in a retaliation against human rights activists, journalists and writers who express critics to the Iraqi government and Shiia coalition party. Several press and media agencies criticized loudly the Iraqi Shiia Coalition during the constitution writing process. Khadir led a campaign to amend the constitution and urged for a constitution to be as peace building tool which brings all parties and opponents to a national consensus and social cohesion rather than a state building as the ruling party is regularly saying. UNAMI commented that most of these civil society activities were and are supported by the UN agencies, International donors or the US and British governments. IRIN/UN news agency reveiled that journalists and writers are the most vulnerable victims to killing, deaths, threats, kidnapping, torture and detention are commonly exercised by un controlled Iraqi forces,paramilitary organisations and Shiia or Suni militias. Similarity to this specific case is occurring and spreading in the south, centre and the north of Iraq.
The number of killed journalists and writers in Iraq has exceeded 220 this year. The Iraqi organisation for Supporting Journalists victims reported to IRIN.
US National Guard Sergeant Frank "Greg" Ford claims that he witnessed human rights violations in Samarra, Iraq. A subsequent Army investigation found Ford's allegations to be unfounded. Ford was also found to have displayed unauthorized "US Navy SEAL" insignia on his Army uniform; Ford had in fact never been a Navy SEAL as he had claimed for many years while serving in the Army National Guard.
- Kuwaiti News Agency reports that a high ranking Iraqi security source in the Interior ministry said that the final death toll of the 13 August bombings in the Al-Zafaraniyah district in southern Baghdad is 57 killed and 145 injured, most of them women and children.10 Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki laid the blame with Sunni extremists seeking to escalate the conflict.11
Video footage taken from the gun camera of a US Apache helicopter in Iraq was shown on ABC TV, showing the killing of suspected Iraqi insurgents. Controversy arose around the case, due to the ambiguity of the video. A cylindrical object is tossed on the ground in a field. The US military considered it to be an RPG or a mortar tube and fired upon the people. IndyMedia UK has suggested that the items may have been harmless implements of some sort. The journal also says that the helicopter opened fire on a man identified as wounded, which they say is in contradiction with international laws.1213
See: Ilario Pantano
On April 14, Lieutenant Ilario Pantano of the United States Marine Corps, killed two unarmed captives. Lieutenant Pantano claimed that the captives had advanced on him in a threatening manner. The officer who presided over his article 32 hearing recommended a court martial for "body desecration", but all charges against Lieutenant Pantano were dropped due to lack of credible evidence or testimony. He subsequently separated from the Marine Corps with an honorable discharge.
The village of Mukaradeeb was attacked by American helicopters on May 19, 2004, killing 42 men, women and children. The casualties, 11 of whom were women and 14 were children, were confirmed by Hamdi Noor al-Alusi, the manager of the nearest hospital. Western journalists also viewed the bodies of the children before they were buried.20
See: Haditha killings
On November 19, 24 Iraqis were killed. At least 15, and allegedly all, of those killed were non-combatant civilians and all are alleged to have been killed by a group of U.S. Marines. The following ongoing investigation claimed it found evidence that "supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot civilians, including unarmed women and children", according to an anonymous Pentagon official.21
In February 2006 a video showing a group of British soldiers apparently beating several Iraqi teenagers was posted on the internet, and shortly thereafter, on the main television networks around the world. The video, taken from an upper storey of a building in the southern Iraqi town of Al-Amarah, shows many Iraqis outside a coalition compound. Following an altercation in which members of the crowd tossed rocks and reportedly an improvised grenade at the soldiers, the British soldiers rushed the crowd. The troopers brought some Iraqi teenagers into the compound and proceeded to beat them. The video includes a voiceover in a British accent, apparently by the cameraman, taunting the beaten teenagers.
The individual recording could be heard saying:
- Oh, yes! Oh Yes! Now you gonna get it. You little kids. You little motherfucking bitch!, you little motherfucking bitch.22
The event was broadcast in mainstream media, resulting in the British government and military condemning the event. The incident became especially worrisome for British soldiers, who had enjoyed a much more favourable position than American soldiers in the region. Concerns were voiced to the media about the safety of soldiers in the country after the incident. The tape incurred criticism, albeit relatively muted, from Iraq, and media found people prepared to speak out. The Royal Military Police conducted an investigation into the event, and the prosecuting authorities determined that there was insufficient case to justify court martial proceedings.23
See: Mahmudiyah killings
On March 12, 5 U.S. troops gang raped and murdered a 14 year old Iraqi girl, after murdering 3 members of her family currently in the home at the time. The incident resulted the offenders being prosecuted and a number of reprisal attacks against U.S. troops by insurgent forces.
See: Ishaqi incident
On March 15, 11 Iraqi civilians were allegedly bound and executed by U.S. troops in what is termed the "Ishaqi incident". A U.S. investigation found that U.S. military personnel had acted appropriately, and had followed the proper rules of engagement in responding to hostile fire and incrementally escalating force until the threat was eliminated. The Iraqi government has rejected the American conclusions and will launch its own investigation.
See: Hamdania incident
On April 26, U.S. Marines shot dead an unarmed Iraqi man. An investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service resulted in charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy associated with the coverup of the incident. The defendants are seven Marines and a Navy Corpsman. As of February 2007, five of the defendants have pleaded guilty to lesser charges of kidnapping and conspiracy and have agreed to testify against the remaining defendants who face murder charges. Additional Marines from the same battalion faced lesser charges of assault related to the use of physical force during interrogations of suspected insurgents.
On May 9, U.S. troops of the 101st Airborne Division executed 3 male Iraqi detainees at the Muthana Chemical Complex. An investigation and lengthy court proceedings followed. Spc. William Hunsaker and Pfc. Corey Clagett — pleaded guilty to murder and were sentenced to 18 years each for premeditated murder. Spc. Juston Graber, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for shooting one of the wounded detainees and was sentenced to nine months. A forth soldier, Staff Sgt. Ray Girouard of Sweetwater, Tenn. remains convicted of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and violation of a general order.2425
There have been major criticisms by numerous human rights organizations and Shiite officials that currently Sunnis have systematically kidnapped, tortured and killed Shiites or those who they deem the enemy. Amnesty International has extensively criticized the Iraqi government for its handling of the Walid Yunis Ahmad case, in which an ethnically-Turkmen journalist from Iraqi Kurdistan was held for ten years without charge or trial.26
Iraq is in a state of sectarian civil war. Small groups as well as militia engage in bombings in civilian areas and in assassination of officials of various levels, and against Shiites and smaller religious minorities. Secular-oriented individuals, officials of the new government, aides to the United States (such as translators), individuals and families of the nation's various religious groups are subject to violence and death threats.
See also Refugees of Iraq.
- "In Iraq, for example, the U.S. military command, working closely with the Iraqi government and the U.S. embassy, has sought nontraditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of aggressive campaign of disinformation. Yet this has been portrayed as inappropriate; for example, the allegations of someone in the military hiring a contractor, and the contractor allegedly paying someone to print a story—a true story—but paying to print a story."
"The U.S. military plans to continue paying Iraqi newspapers to publish articles favorable to the United States after an inquiry found no fault with the controversial practice," Army General George Casey said March 3, 2006. Casey said that "the internal review had concluded that the U.S. military was not violating U.S. law or Pentagon guidelines with the information operations campaign, in which U.S. troops and a private contractor write pro-American articles and pay to have them planted without attribution in Iraqi media."29
The legal status of Freedom of Speech and the Press is also unclear in Iraq. Both freedoms are promised in the Iraqi Constitution, with exemptions for Islamic morality and national security. However, the operating Iraqi Criminal Code of 1969 has vague prohibitions to using the press or any electronic means of communication for "indecent" purposes.
The United States through the CPA abolished the death penalty (since reinstated) and ordered that Criminal Code of 1969 and the Civil Code of 1974 would be the operating legal system in Iraq. However, there has been some debate as to how far the CPA rules have been applied.
For example, the Iraqi Criminal Code of 1969 does not prohibit forming a trade union and the Iraqi Constitution promises that such an organization will be recognized (a right under Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), but for some reason the Iraqi courts and special tribunal seem to be operating under a slightly revised version of the 1988 legal code, and thus a 1987 ban on unions might still be in place.
Likewise, while the Iraqi Criminal Code of 1969 or the apparent 1988 edition do not expressly prohibit homosexual relations between consenting adults in private (a right under a United Nations Human Rights Commission ruling in 1994), scattered reports seem to suggest that homosexuality is still being treated as a crime, possible a capital crime under a 2001 amendment that technically should not exist. For more information on this topic see Gay rights in Iraq.
- Prisoner abuse
- Operation Phantom Fury
- Human rights in pre-Saddam Iraq
- Human rights in Saddam Hussein's Iraq
- 2003 invasion of Iraq
- Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–present
- Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse
- Human Rights Record of the United States
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Gay rights in Iraq
- Refugees of Iraq
- Religious war
- NewsHour Extra: Who Are the Iraq Insurgents? - June 12, 2006
- "UN News Centre | News Focus: Dark day for UN". Un.org. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "CBC News Indepth: Iraq". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "Insurgents kill Bulgarian hostage: Al-Jazeera". CBC News. July 14, 2004.
- dead link
- "Free Internet Press - Uncensored News for Real People". Freeinternetpress.com. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "BBC NEWS | Middle East | Captors kill Egypt envoy to Iraq". London: News.bbc.co.uk. Last Updated:. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- Worth, Robert F. (February 25, 2006). "Muslim Clerics Call for an End to Iraqi Rioting". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-02-24.
- "BBC NEWS | Middle East | Russian diplomat deaths confirmed". London: News.bbc.co.uk. Last Updated:. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- dead link
- "Bloomberg.com: Worldwide". Bloomberg.com. August 14, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "The Apache Killing Video". IndyMedia. 19 January 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "Experts examine Apache Killing Video". IndyMedia. February 29, 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "Das Erste - Panorama - Militärexperten beschuldigen US-Soldaten des Mordes". Daserste.de (in German). Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- dead link
- dead link
- "Siege of Falluja lifts with Iraqi death toll at over 600". The Irish Times. April 4, 2004.
- Rory McCarthy in Baghdad (April 19, 2004). "Children hit by 'random shooting' | Iraq | Guardian Unlimited". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "Independent Catholic News". Indcatholicnews.com. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "Evidence suggests Haditha killings deliberate: Pentagon source". Associated Press. 2 August 2006.
- "Nyheterna.se - Video visar hur britter slår irakier". Nyheterna.se. Publicerad 12 February 2006 14:41. Archived from the original on February 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-12.
- "UK Troops Beating Iraqi Children". Video.google.com. February 13, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-05.dead link
- Bender, Bryan (June 20, 2006). "Army says 3 soldiers shot 3 Iraqis execution-style". The Boston Globe.
- "WALID YUNIS AHMAD: CHARGED AFTER 11 YEARS OF UNLAWFUL DETENTION". Amnesty International. March 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- "BBC NEWS | Middle East | Warnings of Iraq refugee crisis". London: News.bbc.co.uk. Last Updated:. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- Speaker: Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary, U.S. Department of DefensePresider: Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman, American Express Company. "New Realities in the Media Age: A Conversation with Donald Rumsfeld [Rush Transcript; Federal News Service, Inc.] - Council on Foreign Relations". Cfr.org. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "Detnews.com | This article is no longer available online". Detnews.com. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
-  Human Rights Watch: Background on the Crisis in Iraq (a contents page for the organization's various reports on Iraq, mostly after Saddam's regime fell)
- Iraq Inter-Agency Information & Analysis Unit Reports, Maps and Assessments of Iraq's Governorates from the UN Inter-Agency Information & Analysis Unit
-  U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Iraq, 2005 (released March 8, 2006)
-  Freedom House 2006 report on Iraq
- OneWorld.net's Latest Coverage on Iraq
- Pictures of the abuse by US soldiers, courtesy of The Memory Hole. Note that the full set of pictures has not been released, including the rape of a young Iraqi by a military contractor.
- April 7, 2003 DOD Briefing on Geneva Convention, EPW's and War Crimes
- The Guardian: Soldier arrested over Iraqi torture photos (May 31, 2003)
- Washington Post: 'Torture Lite' Takes Hold in War on Terror (March 3, 2004)
- US tactics condemned by British officers (April 21, 2004) (Daily Telegraph)
- CBS 60 minutes II: Abuse Of Iraqi POWs By GIs Probed (April 29, 2004)
- BBC: US acts after Iraq prisoner abuse, (30 April 2004)
- Doubt cast on Iraq torture photos (May 2, 2004) (BBC)
- 13 reasons why this picture may not be all it seems (May 2, 2004) (Daily Telegraph)
- This Is Not A Hoax. I Saw It, I Was There (Answers to some of the objections; May 3, 2004) (The Daily Mirror) (Alternative link)
- A third UK soldier steps up (May 7, 2004) (The Guardian)
- Mirror admits it was "hoaxed" (May 15, 2004) (The Daily Mirror)
- Two Danish physicians attest to British abuse (May 15, 2004) (New Zealand Herald)
- New Details of Prison Abuse Emerge (May 21, 2004)
- Report: Army doctors involved in Abu Ghraib abuse (2004-08-20) (Reuters)
- Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib - Interview with Seymour Hersh by Democracy Now! on September 14, 2004.
- Journalists Among Those Abused by US Troops (IFEX)
- U.S. State Department on Iraq Human rights in 2004 (released 2005) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices section on Iraq. 460 KB in size for the Iraq portion alone. HTML. One page. No pictures, all English text.
- Editorial: Patterns of Abuse, New York Times, May 23, 2005
- UN raises alarm on death squads and torture in Iraq (Reuters, September 8, 2005)
- US Troops Seize Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist, The Guardian, January 9, 2006
- Thank You Joe Darby – A site for expressions of support for Joe Darby, the soldier that exposed the graphic photos and video and brought the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to light.
- Iraq general's killer reprimanded, BBC, January 24, 2006
- Mild Penalties in Military Abuse Cases, Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2006
- ‘The Salvador Option’, Newsweek, January 14, 2005
- Sunni men in Baghdad targeted by attackers in police uniforms, Knight Ridder, June 28, 2005
- 539 Bodies Found in Iraq Since April, AP, October 7, 2005
- Ex-PM: Abuse as bad as Saddam era, CNN, November 27, 2005
- Killings Linked to Shiite Squads in Iraqi Police Force, LA Times, November 29, 2005
- Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings, NY Times, November 29, 2005
- Iraq's Death Squads: On the Brink of Civil War, The Independent, February 26, 2006
- Bound, Blindfolded and Dead: The Face of Revenge in Baghdad, NY Times, March 26, 2006
- Iraq militias' wave of death, Boston Globe, April 2, 2006