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Human rights violations in Iraq

Countless reports of human rights violations have emerged from Iraq, although the Iraqi government prohibits the establishment of independent human rights organizations within the Country and rarely permits outside human rights monitors inside.

Human rights organizations have documented government approved executions, acts of torture, and rape for decades since Saddam Hussein came to power there in 1979.

In 2002, a resolution sponsored by the European Union was adopted by the Commission for Human Rights, which stated that there had been no improvement in the human rights crisis in Iraq. The statement condemned President Saddam Hussein's government for its "systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law". The resolution demanded that Iraq immediately put an end to its "summary and arbitrary executions... the use of rape as a political tool and all enforced and involuntary disappearances".

Two years earlier, two human rights orgainizations, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues[?] and the Coalition for Justice in Iraq[?] released a joint report, accusing the Saddam Hussein regime of committing "massive and systematic" human rights violations, particularly against women. The report spoke of public beheadings of women who were accused of being prostitutes, which took place in front of family members, including children. The heads of the victims were publicly displayed near signs reading, "For the honor of Iraq." The report documented 130 women who had been killed in this way, but stated that the actual number was probably much higher. The report also describes Human rights violations directed against children. The report states that children, as young as 5 years old, are recruited into the "Ashbal Saddam," or "Saddam's Cubs," and indoctrinated to adulate Saddam Hussein and denounce their own family members. The children are also subjected to military training, which includes cruelty to animals. The report also describes how parents of children are executed if they object to this treatment, and in some cases, the children themselves are imprisoned.

Other Documented Violations

  • Full political participation at the national level is restricted only to members of the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party, which constitutes only 8% of the population. Therefore, it is impossible for Iraqi citizens to change their government.

  • Iraqi citizens are not allowed to assemble legally unless it is to express support for the government. The Iraqi government controls the establishment of political parties, regulates their internal affairs and monitors their activities.

  • Police checkpoints on Iraqi's roads and highways prevent average citizens from traveling abroad without government permission and expensive exit visas. Before traveling, an Iraqi citizen must post collateral. Iraqi women cannot travel outside of the Country without the escort of a male relative.

  • The activities of citizens living inside Iraq who receive money from relatives abroad are closely monitored.

  • In 1988, the Hussein regime began a campaign of extermination against the Kurdish people living in Norhtern and Southern Iraq. The attacks resulted in the death of at least 50,000 (some reports estimate as many as 100,000 people), many of them women and children. A team of Human Rights Watch investigators determined, after analyzing eighteen tons of captured Iraqi documents, testing soil samples and carrying out interviews with more than 350 witnesses, that the attacks on the Kurdish people were characterized by gross violations of human rights, including mass executions and disappearances of many tens of thousands of noncombatants, widespread use of chemical weapons including Sarin, mustard gas and nerve agents that killed thousands, the arbitrary imprisoning of tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly people for months in conditions of extreme deprivation, forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers after the demolition of their homes, and the wholesale destruction of nearly two thousand villages along with their schools, mosques, farms, and power stations.

  • In June of 1994, the Hussein regime in Iraq established severe penalties, including amputation, branding and the death penalty for criminal offenses such as theft, corruption, currency speculation and military desertion.

  • In March of 2003, Britain released video footage of Iraqi soldiers firing on fleeing Iraqi citizens near the town of Basra in souther Iraq.

  • In late March, 2003, the Iraqi lawyer credited with helping Coalition forces rescue POW Jessica Lynch said that he had witnessed Iraqi soldiers torturing and beating the US soldier, violating the Geneva Convention.

  • Also in April of 2003, CNN admitted that it withheld information about Iraq torturing journalists and Iraqi citizens that were interviewed by CNN in the 1990s. According to CNN, the channel kept the information secret because they were afraid that their journalists would be killed if they reported it.

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