Thank you, Madam President.
Human Rights Watch welcomes the adoption of the outcome of the UPR on Iraq, which contained important recommendations to address human rights concerns. We take note of Iraq’s stated commitment to implement these recommendations by developing a national human rights plan in consultation with national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.
However, we remain deeply concerned by the situation on the ground, including numerous incidents of security forces using excessive force against protesters since October 2019, leading to hundreds dead and thousands wounded, due process violations in the courts, and minimal accountability for victims of ISIS abuse.
Iraq accepted recommendations to take necessary measures to end excessive use of force against protesters and investigate incidents of deaths and injuries. However, since October, Iraq has taken limited steps to hold security forces accountable and has not prosecuted more senior officials in command control of those killing protesters. It has also failed to prevent forces from continuing to use excessive force against protesters.
Despite recommendations made during the last two UPR cycles to enact a law that would criminalize the international crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Iraq has failed to do so. Instead, with the notable exception of one recent trial, judges within the Baghdad and Kurdistan Region’s courts have prosecuted ISIS suspects under overly broad terrorism charges, in trials replete with due process violations and excluding victim participation. Human Rights Watch also regrets that Iraq did not support recommendations made by states during the UPR that Iraq ratify and align national legislation with the Rome Statute.
Despite Iraq’s support of recommendations during the last two UPR cycles to combat impunity for acts of torture and extrajudicial killings and exclude as evidence at trial confessions obtained through torture, Human Rights Watch continues to receive reports that security forces are routinely using torture to extract confessions. Judges regularly ignore statements from defendants that their confession was extracted through torture and continue to rely on the confessions as evidence.