Human rights and Iraq's reconstruction

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Tuesday, June 24, 2003 at 12:39PM :

Human rights and Iraq's reconstruction
Report, Human Rights Watch

20 June 2003

International donors to Iraq's reconstruction should avoid the mistakes made in Afghanistan by ensuring that human rights are a central part of the country's transition, Human Rights Watch said today on the eve of a donor meeting in New York.

In a memorandum sent to donor governments in advance of the meeting, Human Rights Watch highlighted priorities for assistance, including the development of human rights institutions; security sector and judicial reform; the reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons; protections for women and children; and the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance.

"Lesson number one from Afghanistan is that, without security, there will be no reconstruction," said Rory Mungoven, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "Lesson number two is that without protecting human rights, there will be no genuine security either."

Human Rights Watch urged donors to support longer-term police reforms, including the vetting and re-training of all local officials, police and other security personnel. Help will also be needed to restore the basic infrastructure for law enforcement and justice. In visits to eight open Baghdad police stations, Human Rights Watch found that all had been completely stripped of all essential equipment, including archives, and even light fixtures and wiring.

"Protection of human rights as well as law and order are indispensable for development and reconstruction," said Mungoven. "Donors should help Iraq establish a national human rights commission or ombudsman's office to investigate complaints and prevent abuse."

Human Rights Watch called on donors to help with the development of a proper legal and administrative framework for the reintegration of displaced Iraqis and returning refugees, including the establishment of a tribunal to resolve property disputes that could be the source of violence and reprisals.

Human Rights Watch also called for special priority to be given to the needs of women and children who have suffered the cumulative effects of sanctions and war.

"Iraqi women are well placed to participate fully in reconstruction plans," Mungoven said. "Donors should involve women as equal partners in the design and implementation of projects in all areas, not just those traditionally considered 'women's issues.'"

Human Rights Watch said donors should target assistance toward vulnerable sub-groups of children, including girls, refugee and internally displaced children, street children, and children from disadvantaged social groups at risk of discrimination and abuse.

Human Rights Watch urged that donors also prioritize the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance, including coalition cluster munitions duds, that litter the country and pose a threat to civilians.

Related Links:

Human Rights and Iraq's Reconstruction, HRW Memorandum to June 24 International Donors Meeting, 20 June 2003

Basra: British Forces Fail to Provide Security, HRW, 3 June 2003

U.N.: Iraq Rep Should Focus on Human Rights, HRW, 23 May 2003

The Lesson of Afghanistan: Peacekeeping in Iraq, HRW Commentary, 20 May 2003

-- Sadie
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