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Human Rights Commission Planned For Iraq

Khaleej Times
October 18, 2006

Iraqi MPs on Wednesday announced plans to set up a human rights commission for the first time in the violence-wracked country with the help of the United Nations. The announcement came during a press conference after a workshop in Amman organised by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) attended by MPs from various Iraqi political parties and blocs. According to organisers, plans for the first National Human Rights Commission in Iraq will be submitted to parliament in Baghdad later this month or in early November.

While described as "independent" in scope, the work of the nine-member commission to be selected by parliament will be monitored by the legislative body, organisers said. Its goal will be to list and identify human rights violation, including those blamed on international forces, they said.

"Unfortunately, so far we have not been able to investigate human rights violations in Iraq," said Haidar Abbadi of the majority Shia alliance parliamentary bloc. "As a result we have not been able to punish those who have carried out and continue to carry out such crimes against the Iraqi people," Abbadi said. "This commission will listen to the people's complaints and act on them," said Abbadi, who served as communications minister in the former government of Ibrahim Jaafari.

Abbadi insisted that human rights violations did not take place only under the Baathist regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein who was ousted from power in the US-led invasion of March 2003. "Human rights violations have taken place over the past three years because of past policies as well as the occupation, and have also been carried out by (the ousted) Baathists and religious fundamentalists," Abbadi said.

MP Hareth Mohieddin Al Obeidi of the Sunni party National Accord said that many groups, including coalition forces, were responsible for human rights abuses in Iraq. "These violations are committed by many groups, not only terrorist gangs. There are flagrant violations committed by the occupation forces," he said.

Obeidi referred to the Abu Ghraib prison scandals in which detainees were abused by their US guards and the alleged murder or intimidation of Iraqi civilians by coalition troops. He also accused Iraqi militias of fuelling "sectarian strife, killings, forcefully evicting people from their homes and highway robbery". "The commission has to restore the rights of the Iraqi people so that they can feel truly free and in a democratic country," said Obeidi, the deputy head of parliament's human rights commission.

The chief of UNAMI's human rights office in Iraq, Gianni Magazzeni, insisted that "full realisation of all human rights are important factors for stability in Iraq". Magazzeni noted that post-war Iraq was the first Arab country to have set up a human rights ministry and said the ministry and the commission should be able to work together to stem abuses. "It should be emphasized that the commission is an independent constitutional body, created by and accountable to the council of representatives," he said.

More Information on Iraq
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