The Duck of Minerva

UNAMI Report on Iraq: Dire, Grave Crises

15 October 2007

On October 11, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued its 11th report (warning: pdf) on the human rights situation in Iraq.

The report is filled with bad news — and not much good news.

For example, the “dire” situation in Iraq poses “devastating consequences for the civilian population….

Daily life for the average Iraqi civilian remains extremely precarious. The violence remains in large part indiscriminate…. UNAMI’s findings, based on its monitoring and research activities, suggest that the human rights situation in Iraq remains grave.”

New insurgent-related violence is exploding in Kurdistan and millions of Iraqis have fled the country:

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that some 2.2 million Iraqis are currently refugees abroad, around half of whom are in Syria.

Even more are internally displaced:

Inside Iraq, the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, Cluster F (Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Durable Solutions) estimates the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to be over one million, in addition to more than 1.2 million remaining displaced or transferred before 2006. Taking into account the many families that failed or were unable to register as IDPs with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society or UN agencies through their local partners, the overall extent of displacement is likely to have been underestimated.

There’s still more bad news.

For instance, the Iraqi and US governments come under attack for their secrecy.

UNAMI regrets that for this reporting period, it was again unable to persuade the Government of Iraq to release data on casualties compiled by the Ministry of Health and its other institutions. UNAMI continues to maintain that making such data public is in the public interest.

…US authorities still do not see fit to allow public monitoring of MNF detention facilities by independent human rights monitors, including those of UNAMI.

…UNAMI sought on several occasions to obtain overall mortality figures from Iraqi official sources, notably the Ministry of Health and its related institutions. UNAMI also urged the reversal of the ban imposed in February 2007 by Government of Iraq representatives on the release of this data.

On the “hearts and minds” issue, UNAMI reported scores of documented cases of US military attacks killing innocent civilian bystanders. The US military just released files about 100s of such attacks.

Moreover, a substantial part of the report is about the status of the very large number of detainees held in Iraq by various authorities. The report explores various judicial rights — and even the death penalty.