The Iraqi government and parliament should pass legislation to address key human rights shortcomings in Iraq’s legal system and take measures to minimize the risks Covid-19 poses to people in prison, Human Rights Watch said today. With the formation of Iraq’s government on May 7, 2020, parliament can now focus on legislative reform.
Human Rights Watch has identified four key areas to advance human rights in Iraq, around which previous governments and parliaments have drafted and reviewed legislative proposals but did not pass them. There are many areas for which legislative reform is needed to bring Iraqi law in line with international standards, but the bills already offered address legal representation, torture, enforced disappearance, and domestic violence.
“Iraq has entered a new phase, with fighting against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) largely over,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should seize this opportunity to focus on protecting Iraqis’ basic rights and bringing Iraq’s laws in line with international standards.”
On March 29, 2018, before the May 2018 elections, the previous parliament completed an initial review of amendments to the Bar Association Law of 1965 that would guarantee defendants the right to have their lawyer in the room during an interrogation. Following this first reading, parliament members transmitted the amendments to the parliamentary legal committee for a second review. The bill carries no budgetary implications so is still pending before parliament and does not require further government action.