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Iraq: Women, children, clergy, detainees suffer

Women, children, clergy and detainees suffer abuses in strife-torn Iraq: UN

Terrorism and bombing campaigns, lawlessness, kidnapping and targeted killings continue to wreak havoc on civilians in Iraq, with the rights of women, children, detainees and religious leaders grievously violated, according to a new United Nations report.

“The persistent conflicts affecting the country and weaknesses in law enforcement continue to have a serious and adverse effect on the enjoyment of human rights,” says the bi-monthly rights report by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) covering the period 1 November to 31 December 2005.

“Scores of children have been killed in indiscriminate bombings or as victims of indirect gunfire”, the report says, estimating that women and children make up around twenty percent of deaths.

It also points out that children have been involved in suicide or other attacks against the security forces or the United States-led Multi-National Forces (MNF-I).

According to the report, MNF-1 operations during the period covered raised concerns regarding the death, injury and displacement of non-combatants, as well as damage to medical facilities, with claims made that hospitals have also been occupied or otherwise harassed.

Killings by armed groups that target civilians, religious leaders and mosques with the clear intent to undermine community relations have increased, the report says, recommending that: “Political and community leaders should continue to work towards countering such practices and improving community relations.”

Kidnappings by militias, criminal gangs and criminals dressed in security force uniforms have also increased, the report adds. “While the abduction of foreign nationals has been widely publicized, the plight of Iraqi victims has attracted less attention despite involving a higher number of hostages,” it says.

Many Iraqi kidnapping victims are often religious clerics or pilgrims, both Sunni and Shiite, and are often tortured and killed.

The report expresses particular concern at the November discovery of detainees in detention centres run by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior who had reportedly been systematically abused while in detention, which was widely condemned.

“The identification of problems related to unofficial detention centres in all of Iraq must result in bringing to justice those found to have committed crimes at all levels of responsibility” the report concludes.

In other news from Iraq today, Ashraf Qazi, the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, met with Iraqi Vice President Adel Abed Al Mahdi to discuss the potential impact of this week’s expected release of the preliminary results from the December elections, according to UNAMI.

UNAMI said they also discussed progress toward holding the Iraqi National Accord Conference in Baghdad, for which the Arab League had been organizing a preparatory meeting.

© Scoop Media

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