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Cablegate: Baghdad's Criminal Justice System -- Overtaxed And

DE RUEHGB #2687/01 2250737
P 130737Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 06 BAGHDAD 4572

1. (U) This is a Baghdad PRT reporting cable.

2. (SBU) Summary: Judicial investigators and investigative
judges, and personnel at the Iraqi Bar Association (IBA), the
Iraqi Jurists Union (IJU), local police stations, and
provincial courthouses consistently tell the PRT Baghdad Rule
(ROL) of Law Team that they are over-worked and under-paid,
and lack protection, training and support. In addition,
judges and police officials assert that current GOI training
and support is inadequate to handle the volume of criminal
activity and detainees. The lack of due process and
procedural transparency further degrade security, detainee
management, and legal adherence. This failure by an
overwhelmed criminal justice system is undermining efforts to
establish credible rule of law in Baghdad. End summary.

3. (SBU) Background: The Iraqi Bar Association (IBA) and the
Iraqi Jurists Union (IJU) are key non-governmental and
governmental actors in Iraqi rule of law. Founded in 1933,
the IBA is a standout Iraqi legal association with its
inclusive approach to ethnicity and Islamic sect. Similarly,
the IJU claims more than 504,000 members throughout Iraq,
including Jews, Christians, Arabs, and Kurdish lawyers.
Unlike the IBA, which is wholly comprised of lawyers in
private practice, IJU membership has included governmental
lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and judicial investigators
since its founding in 1962. The IJU is a member of the
larger Arab Jurist Union, whose current President is an Iraqi
citizen. With offices and membership across Iraq, the IJU
has access to resources nationwide resources, and sponsors
two law schools in Basra and Balad. The IBA and the IJU
expressed admiration for the US judicial system and welcomed
USG assistance in building the Iraqi legal system into a
modern, transparent, and functional entity. Leadership in
both organizations, however, expressed ongoing frustration
that such support is at best sporadic. End background.

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Curriculum-Based Training Critical for Investigative Judges
--------------------------------------------- --------------

4. (SBU) Iraqi ROL stakeholders reported that inadequately
trained investigative judges are not processing cases in
accordance with Iraqi criminal law, or in a manner
appropriate to the major crimes and terrorism-related
offenses impacting Baghdad today. The IJU claimed that
inadequate training and experience--based largely on pre-2003
models and compounded by de-Baathification and an antiquated
court structure--has limited the mentorship of
newly-appointed investigative judges from more experienced
colleagues. As a result, inexperienced investigative judges
often defer decisions to release or move detainees to trial
for fear of making the wrong choice. Baghdad investigative
judges and judicial investigators, alongside other ROL
stakeholders, agreed that curriculum-based instruction,
rather than ad hoc, on-the-job training, is critical to
addressing the deficit in professional confidence and

Poor Logistical Support

5. (SBU) Judicial investigators across Baghdad reported that
logistical constraints, overwhelming case loads, and poor
security have dramatically reduced the number of
investigations closed or moved forward for trial. They lack
basic investigative tools such as cameras and plastic
evidence bags as well as other equipment necessary to support
investigations. For example, the four judicial investigators
at Baghdad,s Bab al-Muatham police station in the al-Rusafa
district carry an extraordinary caseload (approximately 500
cases each) as compared to their colleagues in neighboring
police stations. The Iraqi Judicial Branch, known as the
Higher Juridical Council (HJC), does not provide vehicles,
fuel, phones or other basic operating tools, nor does the HJC
fund job-related expenses. As a result, judicial
investigators often pay for work-related expenses out of
their own pocket in order to do their job. (Note: Judicial
Investigators earn approximately 350,000 dinars (USD 235) per
month. End note.) For example, some judicial investigators
must personally pay for juveniles to undergo the Age
Determination Process. Iraqi Police no longer provide an
escort to judicial investigators to crime scenes or to locate
witnesses. Judicial investigators asserted that these
constraints preclude them from leaving their local police
stations altogether.

Inconsistent Backing from Iraqi Security Forces
--------------------------------------------- --

BAGHDAD 00002687 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) Further complicating the efficacy of the criminal
justice system is a widely demonstrated lack of respect for
the judiciary by Iraqi Security Forces. At Bab al Muatham,
co-located with a Joint Security Station (JSS), Iraqi Army
units recently took over the judicial investigators, offices
in the station without sufficient notice or cause. Judicial
investigators and investigative judges reported feeling
marginalized at their police stations, blaming a lack of
respect and understanding for their role. Consistently,
judicial investigators reported little direct contact with
investigative judges located at other stations. (Note:
judicial investigators report to investigative judges. End

7. (SBU) The experience at Bab al Muatham LPS stands in
contrast to al-Sa,adoun LPS, also located in Baghdad,s
al-Rusafa district, where judicial investigators reported a
good working relationship with police investigators,
investigative judges, and local prosecutors. As a result,
al- Sa,adoun,s judicial investigators, who labor under the
same equipment and technical support deficits, only carry an
average 75 cases each and generally complete their
investigations within three months. Such localized
disparity, particularly within the same district, appears
driven by the local police,s opinion of the Judiciary,s
professional competence and enforcement capabilities, rather
than sectarian differences.

Overcrowding at Detention Facilities

8. (SBU) Inadequate training, logistical obstacles and a poor
relationship with police has degraded the ability of
investigative judges to issue orders for release or trial,
which is adding to serious overcrowding in detention
facilities across Baghdad. (Note: this is helping to
perpetuate a juvenile detention crisis reported SEPTEL. End
note.) Baghdad ROL stakeholders claim that the myriad of
problems facing judicial investigators and investigative
judges is resulting in detainees being held without any
action or disposition for time periods in excess of the
limits of Iraqi law. Both judges and police assessed that
fair and timely case processing will greatly reduce the need
for more detention facilities.


9. (SBU) Implementing effective training programs and
facilitating professional mentorship for Baghdad judicial
investigators and investigative judges is essential to case
quality and management. While approximately 1,000 judges
across Iraq receive Coalition training, nearly
40,000--including judicial investigators and investigative
judges--do not benefit from such programs. Increased support
from the HJC to district level investigative judges and
judicial investigators can also increase broader
understanding of their role among Iraqi security forces.
These steps will work to provide relief to overcrowded
detention facilities, and renew professional and popular
confidence in the Baghdad criminal justice system. End

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