BRIEFING NOTES - (1) Iraq; (2) Lebanon
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Marta Hurtado
Date: 3 August 2021
Subject: (1) Iraq
Iraq’s legal framework to prevent ill-treatment, developed over several years, now needs to be translated into effective measures to tackle torture in detention centres and prevent further violations, a UN report published on Tuesday highlights.
The report* of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Human Rights Office, entitled “Human Rights in the Administration of Justice in Iraq: legal conditions and procedural safeguards to prevent torture,” describes how although the Iraqi legal framework explicitly criminalises torture and sets out procedural safeguards to prevent it, the practice continues throughout the country.
The report, which covers the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 April 2021, is based on interviews conducted with 235 people deprived of their liberty as well as with prison staff, judges, lawyers, and families of detainees, among others.
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A year ago, the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was rocked by explosions that left, according to official figures, more than 200 people dead and more than 6,000 injured. The explosions on 4 August 2020 ripped through the city, causing appalling devastation and changing the lives of thousands of people forever.
There was initially a powerful spirit of national solidarity as all elements of society came together in response, and the Government initiated judicial proceedings. But 12 months on, victims and their loved ones are still fighting for justice and truth. Investigations appear to have stalled, amid a worrying lack of transparency and accountability.
As despair deepens and anger mounts in Lebanon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is today stressing the urgent need for the Lebanese Government to ensure a transparent, effective, thorough and impartial investigation into what happened last August and to hold those responsible accountable.
The High Commissioner is also calling on the authorities to uphold the right of victims to effective remedy and reparations.
One victim, who lost her husband, her brother and a cousin in the blast, said she would keep seeking the truth to her last breath. The authorities must pursue the investigations with similar resolve.