Latest Update: 31 March 2013
We were deeply concerned by the deaths on 25 January of at least seven people who were killed when Iraqi troops opened fire on protestors in the north western province of Anbar. We understand that a number of soldiers were also killed, and others kidnapped, in what are believed to be reprisal attacks by militant supporters of the protests. Alistair Burt, FCO Minister for the Middle East, issued a statement on 28 January calling on all political groups to work together to resolve the current disputes and welcoming the Government of Iraq’s announcement that it would conduct a full investigation into the deaths. A protestor was also killed by Iraqi troops in Mosul during another incident on 8 March.
The UK remains concerned by aspects of the administration of justice in Iraq, particularly allegations that women in detention in facilities administered by the Ministry of Interior have been mistreated and subjected to torture. While we welcome the Government of Iraq’s establishment of a committee to visit prisons and detention centres and inspect the conditions of female detainees, it is important that alleged cases of abuse are thoroughly investigated and perpetrators of any mistreatment brought to justice. Mr Burt raised the issue with Adnan al Assadi, Senior Deputy Minister for the Interior, during his visit to Iraq in February. More recently, there were reports (which appear to be validated by online video footage) that detainees in Nasiriyah and Baghdad Central Prison facilities, both of which are administered by the Ministry of Justice, have been subjected to torture.
As part of their response to the protests the Government of Iraq agreed to review all death penalty convictions. This was a welcome development, and we were therefore concerned by reports that a number of executions took place in March, the first since November 2012. More positively, we welcome the withdrawal by the Parliamentary Culture Committee of the Information Crimes Law, which, as drafted, had the potential to restrict significantly freedom of expression.
The UK condemns the rocket attacks of 9 February on the residents of Camp Liberty, which are reported to have killed eight people and injured many others, including Iraqi guards. Mr Burt raised the attack and the humanitarian situation of residents with the Iraqi Minister for Foreign Affairs during his visit to Iraq in February. We call on the Government of Iraq to ensure the security and safety of the residents of Camp Liberty.