Iraq’s Security Apparatuses Focus On Human Rights

In an ever unstable security situation, Iraq’s security apparatuses have a reputation for violating human rights and resorting to extreme use of force, a reputation the government is working to do away with.

al-monitor Members of the Iraqi special forces stand guard at a checkpoint in central Baghdad, March 23, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Saad Shalash.

נושאים מכוסים

violence, un, security, police, iraqi police, iraq, human rights

יונ 30, 2013

The attack carried out by the Iraqi security forces team against the coach of the Karbala soccer club, Mohammed Abbas, on June 24, 2013, was not unique. It was preceded by numerous incidents, some of which were linked to the security forces such as the Hawija incident that occurred on April 23, 2013.

The problem does not lie in the nature of this military force — considered the striking hand in major armed operations — nor does it lie in ambiguity surrounding the role and powers of its members, and the demands to reveal the full truth behind it, described by the Iraqiya List as “of an unknown origin and legitimacy” in a recent statement

The [real] problem is neither specifically related to these forces nor relevant to generalizing individual incidents caused by soldiers [with their own motivations] from time to time. Nor should the blame be put on the Iraqi security and military forces which have been subjected to major terrorist pressures and threats for years.

Such incidents indicate that there is an urgent need in Iraq to re-evaluate the understanding of the military and powers and limits of the security forces in general on the one hand, and examine to what extent security and military institutions adopt a culture of human rights, as a way to guarantee security personnel assimilate before dealing with the public, on the other.

Thus far, disseminating a culture of human rights among security and military officers and members is not an apparently urgent priority in the modern Iraqi state. Nor was it a top priority under the rule of former President Saddam Hussein. A culture of violating human rights and considering security forces as an authority above the law — not subject to it — is what the current regime inherited from the previous one through thousands of officers who worked for both regimes and blatant negligence in addressing the legacy of the past.

Ministries such as those of defense, the interior and national security, and apparatuses such as the intelligence service, will respond to this accusation by bringing attention to this issue in human rights training courses organized periodically for their officers and members.

The truth is that [organizing] and intensifying these courses is useful, provided that they are [actually] applied, and not regarded as mere procedures in which high-ranking officers responsible for disseminating the culture of human rights among security and military ranks do not believe.

The main way to ensure that human rights are firmly understood by security members and high-ranking officers is to guarantee that they realize the limits of their powers, and by subjecting them to legal punishment if they exceed these limits.

Facts reveal that violations by individual officers and soldiers have been committed for many years. The Iraqi public has not been made aware of any real official and clear reaction to enforce the law against the perpetrators of these violations, while talks continue over [already] formed committees of inquiry, without the results of their work being announced. 

Iraq — which is on the way to being removed from UN Chapter VII regulations, and thus regaining full sovereignty over its funds, decisions and will — is required to work more effectively to ensure serious application of human rights and prove that it is serious in addressing the violations that harm the country’s reputation and questioning its directives.

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