It was found in a Human Rights Report released that the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees, are being routinely violated with impunity. Photo: Reuters

Iraq – It was found in a Human Rights Report released on Monday that the rights of Iraq’s most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees, are being routinely violated with impunity.

After conducting research in seven cities across Iraq in 2010, the 102-page report “At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years After the US-lead Invasion” represents the reality of vulnerable groups in Iraq while pleading for the government to protect the rights of these groups to amend its penal code and all other laws that discriminate against women and violate freedom of speech.

The report also urges Baghdad to open independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of abuse against detainees, minorities, and journalists.

“Eight years after the US invasion, life in Iraq is actually getting worse for women and minorities, while journalists and detainees face significant rights violations.

On Monday, Iraq is at a crossroads – either it embraces due process and human rights or it risks reverting to a police state,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

According to Human Rights Watch, the 2003 invasion caused a chaos that has exacted an enormous toll on Iraq’s citizens as the deterioration of security has resulted in a return to some traditional justice practices and religiously inflected political extremism, which have had a deleterious effect on women’s rights, both inside and outside the home. It has been reported that militias promoting misogynist ideologies have targeted women and girls for assassination, and intimidated them to keep them from participating in public life.

“Increasingly, women and girls are victimised in their own homes for a variety of perceived transgressions against family or community honor. Trafficking in women and girls in and out of the country for sexual exploitation is widespread”, Human Rights watch said.

Journalism is also, according to Human Rights watch, a hazardous occupation in Iraq, despite the fact that security improvements since 2008 have lead to a lower rate of murdered media workers.

“Extremists and unidentified assailants kill journalists and bomb their offices. Increasingly, journalists find themselves harassed, intimidated, threatened, detained, and physically assaulted by security forces attached to government institutions or political parties. Senior politicians are quick to sue journalists and their publications for unflattering articles”, Human Rights Watch reported.

It was reported that despite government passing laws in an effort to protect some of its marginalized communities, it has failed to protect those most at risk, resulting in many fleeing the country with no intention to return thus threatening Iraq’s indigenous population.

“Iraq’s future as a democratic society based on respect for fundamental human rights will in large part depend on whether Iraqi authorities will adequately defend those rights,” Stork said. “To do so, Iraqi authorities need to establish a credible criminal justice system meeting international standards with respect to torture, free expression, and violence against women and other vulnerable people in Iraq’s society.” - IOL Reporter