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Cablegate: Ninewa: Human Rights Committee Taking the First

VZCZCXRO8693
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2979/01 2481419
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051419Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3201
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002979

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/I, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM PINR IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA: HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE TAKING THE FIRST
STEPS TOWARD EFFECTIVENESS

REF: BAGHDAD 2691

This is a message from the Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction
Team.

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) The chairman and two other representatives from the
Human Rights Committee (HRC) of the Ninewa Provincial
Council, northern Iraq, told the Rule of Law Section of the
Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in August that
the committee was committed to protecting the dignity and
human rights of the people in Ninewa, despite criticism that
the HRC was unwilling to engage local human rights NGOs.
However, it appeared that the newly re-formed committee was
waiting for the Provincial Council to approve its charter
before engaging organizations or beginning its work. The
chairman of the HRC said that he planned to work with
registered NGOs in the province. He stressed that the HRC
would not play favorites when investigating cases, and
planned to investigate cases, including against the security
forces, with equal vigor.

HRC Committed to Human Rights
-----------------------------
2. (SBU) In an August 13 meeting, the chairman and two
members of the Human Rights Committee of the Provincial
Council for Ninewa Province, northern Iraq, told the PRT that
the committee was committed to protecting the dignity and
human rights of the people in Ninewa. Human rights was a new
concept for Iraqis, but the committee wanted to see respect
for individual rights become a part of Iraqi society. The
committee saw its main tasks as investigating allegations of
abuse against detainees and problems relating to internally
displaced persons. There would be an open line of
communications between the HRC and the various groups, both
Government of Iraq (GOI) and NGOs.

HRC Has Five Main Goals
-----------------------
3. (SBU) Based on a training provided to them from the
Research Triangle Institute (RTI) (an executing agent of
USAID) on local government procedures, the HRC created a
committee charter with five main goals. (Note: The RTI
training focused on helping committees develop charters and
to define roles, responsibilities, authorities, and
limitations, among other things. End note.) These five
goals are:

- To establish a database of human rights violations in the
province, working with the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights.

- To adopt a system for human rights education in the
province, through conferences, meetings, and the media.

- To provide support and coordination with the government
authorities, government offices and not-for-profit
organizations working on human rights issues.

- To submit ideas to the Iraqi Parliament and the Provincial
Council for laws and regulations to protect and defend human
rights.

- To investigate allegations of human rights abuses through
site visits to jails and other means.

4. (SBU) The chairman of the HRC stressed that, in order to
begin its work, the committee needed authorization from the
PC for its charter. Once the charter is approved, the HRC
would begin to compile the database of allegations and
produce a "periodic report" to the head of the PC.

HRC Will Work With Registered NGOs
----------------------------------
5. (SBU) The chairman of the HRC stated that he planned to
work with any "legally registered NGO in the province" on
human rights issues. However, he stressed that the HRC would
not work with unregistered NGOs. The deputy chairman of the
HRC added that there were at least 213 human rights NGOs
working in the province. Of this number, only 32 were
registered with the government. The chairman said that he
would push the GOI to force the unregistered NGOs to register
or close down. The committee members said they would provide
the PRT with a list of the 32 registered and the 213 total
NGOs in the province.

6. (SBU) The chairman of the HRC said he had "received a
letter" asking the HRC not to work with unregistered NGOs in
the province. Until the charter was approved by the PC and

BAGHDAD 00002979 002 OF 002


the HRC had a mandate to work, the HRC did not plan to meet
with any human rights groups. The HRC would focus on
procedure in the beginning, ensuring that things were done
correctly and in accordance to the laws. Only after that
would they begin to meet with groups and do their work.

Comment
-------
7. (SBU) The PRT will continue to meet with the HRC to
encourage and support it as it moves forward with its plans.
The PRT also plans to seek out and meet with as many of the
registered human rights NGOs as possible to get a better
grasp on the human rights activities in the province, and
support the Iraqis, taking steps in the right direction
toward solving their own problems themselves.
CROCKER

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