Irfaasawtak / Dilshad Hasan

The delay in the formation of a new Commission for Human Rights in Iraq raises the concerns of activists and human rights defenders about the increase in human rights violations, due to the absence of a competent monitoring body.

The High Commission for Human Rights was formed in 2012, according to Article (102) of the Constitution, within the framework of establishing independent national commissions and bodies.

On December 30, 2008, the parliament passed Law (No. 53 of 2008), establishing the commission, and accordingly a committee of experts from parliament, the government, the judiciary, and civil society organizations was formed to choose the members of the commission’s council, so that the commission would be launched in 2012.

In July 2021, the Iraqi Council of Representatives entrusted the Commission’s work to a committee formed from Parliament, explaining, “In view of the expiration of the term of membership of the current Council of Commissioners (chairman, members – original and reserve), which amounts to (four years) based on the provisions of Clause (6) of Article (8) of the Commission’s law.” At the same time the parliment requested from the commissioners board at, not to exercise any administrative or financial tasks.

The council indicated that the committee formed by it “will manage the commission temporarily because the parliament was unable to vote on the committee of experts to choose the members of the new commission, in order to conduct daily financial and administrative matters, until the formation of the new council of commissioners.”

Despite the holding of parliamentary elections in October 2021 and the start of the new parliament’s work since the beginning of this year 2022, and the formation of the new Iraqi government last October, the new commission has not yet been formed, at a time when human rights organizations are indicating an increase in human rights violations and an increase in cases of torture in prisons. .

“Supervisory freeze”

In this regard, Irfaasawtak interviews a former member of the Commission, Ali al-Bayati, who confirms that the claims made by the previous commissioners board to extend its work were “rejected” by the Presidency of Parliament in the previous session.

He adds, “Despite being a caretaker government, the previous government illegally formed a committee of department managers within the Human Rights Commission under the pretext of paying employees’ salaries, but as a result this committee has become the one that leads the commission and it is a commission of department managers only, and it is still managing it until now.” .

According to Al-Bayati, since July 2021, Iraq has not witnessed the referral of any human rights violations to Iraqi courts, and the Commission has not agreed to issue any report on that.

He believes that the failure to form a new human rights commission “results from a political decision not to activate this oversight institution.”

Al-Bayati continues, “We see the extent of violations that occur, especially in detention centers and prisons, as the Commission is the only institution that monitors the performance of these institutions, and also has the right to refer them to Iraqi courts.”

“It is clear that the absence of a board of commissioners means the lack of effectiveness of the Commission for Human Rights, and thus the number of violations increases without monitoring or accountability,” Al-Bayati warns.

He holds “Parliament responsible for everything that happened and will happen, as well as the previous government for its illegal interference in the commission’s affairs, and the current government for its silence,” as he put it.

Al-Bayati describes stopping the commission’s work as “freezing the oversight institution.”

A partisan “independent” commission

Iraq is witnessing many human rights violations, especially the practice of torture against prisoners, and Iraqi human rights organizations and centers have warned of a rise in cases of torture and violations in the country.

A statistic issued by the Iraqi Center for Documentation of War Crimes indicated that “90% of detainees in Iraq were subjected to systematic torture, and more than 46 cases of torture that led to death of detainees were recorded during the past months of this year.”

The activist, Farah Ali, believes that the Commission for Human Rights was unable to reduce human rights violations in Iraq and was working under pressure from political parties, even those of its members who tried to work were subjected to a lot of harassment during the past years.

She tells “Irfaasawtak”: “It is better to have a completely independent commission outside the interference of political parties, with the need to activate the role of local humanitarian organizations defending human rights and involving them in all human rights files in the country, to reduce violations.”

For her part, a member of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Representative Nissan Al-Zayer, confirmed to “Irfaasawtak” that “the reason for not forming the Council of Commissioners is the delay in the House of Representatives in forming a committee of experts, which is selected according to a specific mechanism for the members of the Council of Commissioners.”

The article in the source