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Human Rights Watch: Iraq: At a Crossroads

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 04:19 PM CT

Human Rights Watch: Iraq: At a Crossroads
At a Crossroads. (PDF: 1 MB)

At a Crossroads
Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years after the US-Led Invasion


Almost eight years after US-led forces invaded Iraq, the country’s transition to a functioning and sustainable democracy built on rule of law is far from accomplished. The rights of Iraq’s most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees, are violated with impunity, and those who would expose official malfeasance or abuses by armed groups do so at enormous risk. Iraq’s future as a society based on respect for fundamental human rights depends in large part on whether Iraqi authorities will adequately defend those rights and establish a
credible national criminal justice system embodying international standards with respect to torture, free expression, and violence against women and other vulnerable sectors of society.

The 2003 invasion and its resulting chaos have exacted an enormous toll on Iraq’s citizens. Over the past eight years, violence has claimed tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and millions continue to suffer from the effects of insecurity. Iraq has made some recent progress as it has pulled itself away from the civil strife that engulfed the country, especially in 2006 and 2007. But terror attacks increased again in the run-up to the March 2010 parliamentary elections and did not abate in the months that followed. Only in November, eight months after those elections, did Iraq’s political parties finally agree to form a new coalition government– ending the political crisis that has stunted progress on security and other
fronts, including human rights.

Human Rights Watch conducted on-the-ground research in April 2010, visiting seven cities across Iraq and interviewing 178 activists, lawyers, journalists, religious leaders, detainees (former and current), security officers, victims of violence, and ordinary Iraqis. We found that, beyond the continuing violence and crimes associated with it, human rights abuses are commonplace. This report presents those findings regarding violations of the rights of women and other vulnerable populations, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment in the 2009-2010 period.

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