Five years on, human rights in Iraq “disastrous”

Khaleej Times, March 16, 2008

(AFP)

LONDON – Amnesty International on Monday said the rights situation in Iraq five years after the US-led invasion was “disastrous” and that the country had turned into one of the world’s most dangerous zones.

“Five years after the US-led invasion that toppled (former president) Saddam Hussein, Iraq is one of the most dangerous countries in the world,” it said in a 24-page report, entitled ”Carnage and Despair. Iraq Five Years On”.

Against a backdrop of insecurity, law and order and economic recovery were a “distant prospect” while most Iraqis were living in poverty, with food shortages, lack of access to safe drinking water and high unemployment.

More than four in 10 Iraqis lived on less than one US dollar a day — the UN standard for measuring poverty — while the health and education systems were at near collapse and women and girls at risk of violence from extremists.

“Saddam Hussein’s administration was a byword for human rights abuse,” said Amnesty’s director for Middle East and North Africa, Malcolm Smart. “But its replacement has brought no respite at all for its people.”

The failure to investigate alleged abuses “is one of the most worrying aspects for the future”, he added.

“Even when faced with overwhelming evidence of torture under their watch, the Iraqi authorities have failed to hold the perpetrators to account — and the US and its allies have failed to demand that they do so,” he said.

Amnesty also criticised the extensive use of the death penalty, the international community’s failure to cater for Iraqi refugees and despite the more stable situation, the lack of free speech in the Kurdistan region.

Continued . . .

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