Palais des Nations, Geneva Dominicans for Justice and Peace, Dominican Leadership Conference, Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, in conjunction with Franciscans International, are seriously concerned about the ongoing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the peoples of Iraq.
We support the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “The Present Situation of Human Rights in Iraq”, released in June 2004, in which many issues are raised concerning the violations of human rights and humanitarian law. A number of important recommendations for action on the part of the United Nations and the international community are addressed. The report can serve as a template from a human rights perspective for the reconstruction of Iraq and the reconstitution of its society.
Some of the major recommendations of the report are:
- Preventative and protective systems are urgently needed at this time to bring to an end the serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law taking place in the country. Priority should be given to curtailing violence in the country.
- The Iraqi authorities should announce as soon as possible the appointment of an Iraqi Legal and Judicial Reform Commission.
- There is also need to consider the establishment of an Iraqi Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as a Reparations Commission.
- The Iraqi authorities should take steps to support Iraqi civil society organizations for the promotion and protection of human rights. There must be accountability for human rights in conflict situations and in the struggle against terrorism.
We consider that the major long-term issue is the recovery and reconstruction of a country that has been destroyed by a horrifying war. In the short-term, this would include providing aid to produce a real effect on the living conditions of the people and to provide employment and jobs for them. These are all necessary conditions for allowing access to security as well as associating Iraqis in the rebuilding of their country.
We are deeply concerned about the grave lack of security and the ongoing disrespect for the rule of law in the country. The aftermath of war has been widespread devastation, increasing lawlessness and incessant conflict. The lack of security in Iraq has a tremendous impact on a daily basis on the lives of real people.
Impunity contributes to maintaining a high level of tension, fear and anxiety within the Iraqi population
The right to health of the people of Iraq is far from being fulfilled. There is still a great lack of medication and supplies of all kinds. A real threat to the health of the next generation is caused by a lack of proper sanitation and the ongoing effects of the environmental pollution caused by the war.
The right to education remains seriously jeopardized. The international community should help to restart the educational system in Iraq.
In a restored sovereign Iraq, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities also need to be guaranteed, including the right of religious freedom and the right to education
Dominicans have lived in Iraq for more than 250 years where they work with and among the Iraqi people. They are involved in the fields of education, health care, including running hospitals, and in other forms of humanitarian endeavor.
Dominicans for Justice and Peace, Dominican Leadership Conference, Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, in conjunction with Franciscans International, therefore recommend that:
- That the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights as well as other UN human rights bodies take into serious consideration the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Present Situation of Human Rights in Iraq, acting decisively to implement its key recommendations at the earliest possible time;
- That the United Nations and the international community act to help ensure the establishment of a representative and sovereign Iraqi government as a foundation for achieving peace and security in the country;
- That the International community provide all the means necessary for the United Nations to play a central role in the period of transition in Iraq and that the UN Commission on Human Rights and other UN human rights bodies strengthen and expand their monitoring efforts with respect to the human rights situation in the country.