UN Calls Rights Situation in Iraq 'Fragile'

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Agence France-Presse

UN Calls Rights Situation in Iraq 'Fragile'

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An Iraqi police officer guards a Baghdad church amid fears of further attacks on Christians (AFP/File, Ahmad al-Rubaye)

A UN report released on Monday said the human rights situation in Iraq is still "fragile," citing issues including economic and political stagnation, continued violence and attacks on minorities.

"The human rights situation throughout Iraq remains fragile as the country slowly transitions from a conflict to post-conflict country that faces enormous development challenges," the 2010 Report on Human Rights in Iraq said.

"Widespread poverty, economic stagnation, lack of opportunities, environmental degradation and an absence of basic services constitute 'silent' human rights violations that affect large sectors of the population," it said.

The report, from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq's human rights office and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, also cited inconclusive March 2010 parliamentary elections and the ensuing nine-plus months of deadlock as a source of rights problems.

"It is believed that this fuelled instability, but it also contributed to a degree of inactivity in relation to implementing reforms and other measures aimed at ensuring the protection and provision of human rights to the Iraqi population," it said.

"Also affecting security was the withdrawal of all (US) combat troops during the year that was completed in August 2010."

Deadly violence remains a significant issue: "Civilians were subjected to arbitrary loss of life and injury, but also limiting access to, and enjoyment of, other basic rights," the report said.

Attacks are still carried out almost daily in Iraq, more than eight years after the 2003 US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein. Violence has, however, fallen from its peak in 2006-2007.

"Minorities suffered from various attacks throughout Iraq during 2010," the report said, citing an October 31 assault on a Baghdad church that killed 44 worshippers and two priests as the worst single attack.

It also criticised the fact that only one woman was appointed to the Iraqi cabinet, and said that serious problems remain in terms of "honour crimes" against women, as well as female genital mutilation.

The report noted that ending criminal impunity was a "serious challenge" and that freedom of the press "remains under threat."

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