Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Iraq

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1995
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Iraq, 30 January 1995, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.



Political power in Iraq is concentrated in a repressive one-party apparatus dominated by Saddam Hussein. The provisional Constitution of 1968 stipulates that the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party governs Iraq through the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), which exercises both executive and legislative authority. President Saddam Hussein, who is also Prime Minister, Chairman of the RCC, and Secretary General of the Regional Command of the ABSP, wields decisive power.

Ethnically and linguistically, the Iraqi population includes Arabs, Kurds, Turcomans, Yazidis, and Armenians. The religious mix is likewise varied: Shi'a and Sunni Muslims (both Arab and Kurdish), Christians (including Chaldeans and Assyrians), and Jews. Ethnic divisions have resulted in civil uprisings in recent years, especially in the north and the south. The Government has reacted against these peoples with extreme repression.

The Government's security apparatus includes militias attached to the President, the Ba'ath Party, and the Interior Ministry. Security forces have been responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses. They play a central role in maintaining the environment of intimidation and fear on which government power rests.

The Government controls Iraq's oil-based economy and owns all major industries. Damaged by the Gulf War and subjected to United Nations sanctions as a result of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the economy continues to deteriorate. The sanctions ban all exports and imports except food, medicine, and materials and supplies for essential civilian needs. The Government's failure to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions has led to repeated extensions of the sanctions.

The Government's abysmal record on human rights did not improve in 1994, and worsened in several areas. Systematic violations continued in all categories, including mass executions of political opponents, widespread use of torture, extreme repression of ethnic groups, disappearances, denial of due process, and arbitrary detention. Tens of thousands of political killings and disappearances remain unresolved from previous years. Human rights abuses are difficult to document because of the Government's efforts to conceal the facts. Citizens do not have the right to change their government, and the freedoms of expression and association do not exist, except in Kurdish-controlled areas in the north under the protection of international forces.

The regime deliberately targeted civilians in military operations against Shi'a Arabs living in the southern marshes. In the north, the regime maintained an internal embargo on the importation of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods to Kurdish areas. It imposed additional electricity cut-offs in Dohuk governorate, exacerbating the electrical crisis it had initiated there in late 1993. Elsewhere, the regime diverted humanitarian supplies to its own supporters and to the military. As socioeconomic conditions deteriorated in 1994, the regime introduced new forms of torture for persons accused of economic crimes and military desertion.

In violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the Government persisted in its flagrant interference with the international community's provision of humanitarian assistance. It harassed and intimidated relief workers and targeted them for assassination. A German journalist covering the relief effort and her Kurdish bodyguard were shot to death, execution-style. Several other international personnel, including United Nations guards and journalists, were critically injured in bomb and shooting attacks. New information came to light indicating that the Government offered rewards for killing international relief personnel.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

The regime has a long record of executing perceived opponents. In his October report to the U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Special Rapporteur (hereafter referred to as the Special Rapporteur) stated that the Government's "aim of killing is a political one, with the objective of silencing dissent and suppressing opposition."As in previous years, there were numerous credible reports that the regime had executed a number of persons allegedly involved in plotting against Saddam Hussein, including some members of his family and tribe. High-ranking civilian, military, and tribal leaders were reported among those executed.

On April 12, an opposition figure, Talib Suhayl Al-Tamimi, was assassinated in Beirut, Lebanon. Lebanese security officials arrested two Iraqi diplomats assigned to Beirut and charged them with the murder. The suspects admitted their guilt but at year's end there was no movement toward a trial.

The Government continued to provide safe haven and logistical and military support to several terrorist groups and individuals. These include the Mojahedin-e Khalq, which is opposed to the Government of Iran; elements of the Abu Nidal Organization, based in Lebanon; Abu Abbas' Palestine Liberation Front (PLF); and the notorious bomb-maker Abu Ibrahim. Both Abbas and Ibrahim enjoyed sanctuary in Iraq.

In July the prominent oppositionist, Taki Al-Khoei, and two other members of his family and their driver were killed under suspicious circumstances in an automobile crash in southern Iraq, near Al Najaf. Strong circumstantial evidence pointed to the Government's involvement. The Government had long targeted the Al-Khoei family for harassment and abuse. The family is renowned in Shi'a circles for its religious leadership and outspoken condemnation of the regime's human rights record (see Section 1.b.).

The Special Rapporteur noted in his February report several cases of political killing dating from 1993. These included mass executions of Shi'a Arabs at the Al-Radwaniyah and Abu Ghraib prisons in central Iraq. According to the Special Rapporteur, some of those killed had been involved in the uprising against the Government in the spring of 1991.

In November 1993, the Special Rapporteur reported that the Government had executed several Turcomans whose bodies were mutilated before being returned to their families.

As in past years, the Special Rapporteur noted the frequent use of the death penalty for such political offenses as "insulting" the President or the Ba'ath Party. His February report summarized several RCC decrees that stipulate the death penalty for political and civil offenses (see Section 1.e.).

As in previous years, authorities arrested and placed in detention centers in central Iraq numerous Shi'a inhabitants of the south. Shi'a witnesses who survived detention later reported that some of their comrades had been executed (see Section 1.g.). As the Government strictly controls the movement of international personnel in the southern marshes, information is not available to confirm the number of persons killed.

Political killings and terrorist actions were frequent in the north and directed against civilians, foreign relief workers, journalists, and opposition leaders. German journalist Lissy Schmidt and her Kurdish bodgyguard, Aziz Kader Faraj, were shot to death on April 3 in an ambush near Suleymaniya. Kurdish authorities arrested several suspects who reportedly confessed that the Government had paid them to commit the murders.

The U.S. Government announced in April it had information indicating that the Government of Iraq had offered monetary "bounties" to anyone who assassinates United Nations and other international relief workers.

Amnesty International (AI) reported that three Kurdish political parties in northern Iraq--the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Kurdish Democratic Party, and the Islamic Party in Iraqi Kurdistan--had committed scores of deliberate and arbitrary killings against each other in 1993. Press reports indicated that the Kurdish parties continued to commit arbitrary killings against each other in 1994.

In 1994 additional information came to light concerning the so-called Anfal Campaign ("Spoils") of 1988, in which tens of thousands of Kurds reportedly lost their lives. The campaign is the most prominent example of political killing. During the campaign, government forces arrested thousands of Kurds who have never been seen again. They are presumed to have been died in custody (see Sections 1.b. and 1.g.).

In his February report, the Special Rapporteur concluded that the Government's policies against the Kurds--in particular, against the Barzani tribe--"raise issues of crimes against humanity and violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention." He noted "significant similarities" between the Government's past policies toward the Kurds and its current policies toward Shi'a civilians living in the southern marshes. The Special Rapporteur recommended that "further consideration be given to establish the facts and responsibilities associated with atrocities committed against the Kurdish population."

b. Disappearance

In February the Special Rapporteur reported that he continued to receive "reports on the widespread phenomenon of disappearance." He stated that the U.N. Working Group on Enforcement on Involuntary Disappearances had conveyed to the Government 10,570 names of disappeared persons and planned to convey another 5,000.

The United Nations has documented 16,000 cases of disappeared persons. According to the Special Rapporteur, most of the disappearances occurred during the Anfal Campaign. However, he estimates that the total figure for disappeared Kurds during Anfal could number in the tens of thousands. Middle East Watch estimates the total at between 70,000 and 100,000, and AI at more than 100,000. The Special Rapporteur noted that persons continue to disappear, mainly in the southern marshes, where the Government is conducting counterinsurgency operations.

New information came to light regarding the Barzani arrests of 1983, in which security forces detained thousands of relatives and tribesmen of the late Kurdish nationalist hero Mustapha Barzani. None of these detainees were ever seen again. The Special Rapporteur observed in February that the regime's treatment of the Barzani tribe may constitute violations of the Genocide Convention.

The Special Rapporteur and various human rights groups continued to make inquiries with the Government regarding its arrest in 1991 of the late Grand Ayatollah Abdul Qasim Al-Khoei and 108 of his associates. The Ayatollah died while under house arrest in Al-Najaf, and only two of the persons arrested with him can be accounted for. The regime has not responded to queries regarding the others arrested with Al-Khoei.

The Government failed to return, or account for, a large number of Kuwaiti citizens and third-country nationals detained during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. It denies having any knowledge of the missing persons. U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 687 requires the Government to "facilitate" the search for and the repatriation of those still missing. In his October report, the Special Rapporteur noted that the Government's failure to account for the missing persons violates provisions of the various Geneva Conventions, to which Iraq is a party.

Middle East Watch estimated that, apart from the tens of thousands of persons who have disappeared and are presumed dead, another 10,000 to 12,000 persons were being held without charge in prisons and detention centers.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Although the Government is a party to international conventions against torture, and the Constitution prohibits the practice, the security services routinely torture detainees. The Special Rapporteur continues to note the Government's "systematic" use of physical and psychological torture. According to former detainees, torture techniques include electric shocks administered to the genitals and other sensitive areas, beatings, burnings with hot irons, suspension from ceiling fans, dripping acid on the skin, rape, breaking of limbs, denial of food and water, and threats to rape or otherwise harm relatives. The tormentors kill many torture victims and mutilate their bodies before delivering them to the victims' families.

The authorities introduced new forms of torture in September, including the amputation of ears and the branding of foreheads for certain economic crimes and for desertion from the military. Large numbers of persons reportedly bled to death from such punishments. Opposition media reported that the regime's use of ear amputations sparked a large antiregime demonstration in Mosul on September 8. Opposition media also reported that the authorities executed several doctors who had refused to carry out the amputations. The regime also introduced the traditional Islamic law punishment for thievery--amputation of the right hand. It subsequently stipulated branding of the forehead as the punishment for thieves whose hands already had been amputated and the death penalty for certain categories of thievery. An official newspaper reported on September 9 that the authorities amputated the right hand and branded the forehead of a person convicted of stealing a television set.

In his October report, the Special Rapporteur condemned the amputations and brandings. He stated that the practices constitute "flagrant and determined violations of Iraq's international human rights obligations insofar as they prescribe cruel and unusual punishments and insofar as implementation of the decrees compounds these violations by the conduct of torture." The relevant obligation in this regard is Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iraq is a party. The U.N. General Assembly likewise condemned what it termed "mutilations" in a December resolution.

Certain prisons are notorious for routine mistreatment of prisoners. Al-Rashidiya Prison, on the Tigris River north of Taji, reportedly contains torture chambers in its basement. The Al-Shamma'iya Prison, located in east Baghdad, holds the mentally ill and is reportedly the site of both torture and disappearances.

The Al-Radwaniyah Prison (see Section 1.a.) is a former prisoner-of-war facility near Baghdad and reportedly the site of torture and arbitrary killings, including mass execution by firing squad. This prison was the principal detention center for persons arrested following the civil uprisings of 1991. Many persons taken into custody in connection with the uprisings have not been seen since. Middle East Watch estimated in 1994 that the Al-Radwaniyah Prison holds between 5,000 and 10,000 detainees.

The Special Rapporteur, Middle East Watch, and AI cited the Al-Radwaniyah Prison and the Abu Ghraib Prison, located in Baghdad, as principal sites where torture and disappearances continue to occur. According to opposition reports, in late 1994 authorities at the Abu Ghraib Prison amputated the hands of persons convicted of theft.

The security forces allegedly raped captured civilians during the Anfal Campaign and the occupation of Kuwait and the Gulf War. The Special Rapporteur noted in his February report that he had interviewed numerous women who continue to suffer severe depression after they were raped in official custody. The Government has never acknowledged or taken any action to investigate reports of rape by its officials.

Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq also employed torture. AI reported in 1994 that these authorities and Kurdish opposition groups used torture on political opponents and criminal suspects in 1993.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Although the Constitution and Legal Code explicitly prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, the authorities routinely engage in these practices. In his February report, the Special Rapporteur described "widespread arbitary arrest and detention, in violation of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," primarily in the southern part of the country. He stated that the military and security services, rather than the ordinary police, carried out most cases of arbitrary arrest and detention.

Opposition sources reported in July that the regime had detained 320 people during military operations in the Al-Amarah marshes in June (see Section 1.g.) The opposition conveyed the names of the reported detainees to the Special Rapporteur.

The Special Rapporteur reported that the regime continued to target the Shi'a Muslim clergy for arbitrary arrest and other abuses. In March international news media reported that the regime had forcibly expelled from Iraq the families of the more than 100 Shi'a clerics who had disappeared in 1991 after their arrests with the late Grand Ayatollah aI-Khoei (see Section 1.b.). Many of these clerics and their families are of foreign nationality, primarily Iranian and Pakistani.

According to AI and Middle East Watch, several foreigners arrested arbitrarily in previous years remained in detention.

The Government's refusal to allow tens of thousands of Kurds and Turcomans to return to their homes in Kirkuk and Mosul amounts to a policy of internal exile (see Section 2.d.).

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

There are two parallel judicial systems: the regular courts, which try common criminal offenses; and special security courts, which try cases involving national security. However, the security courts try many criminal cases. The President may override any court decision. There are no checks on his power. The Special Rapporteur noted in his February report that the executive interferes regularly in "all aspects of normal judicial competence in matters ranging from property and commercial law, to family law and criminal law."The procedural rules applicable in the regular courts theoretically provide many basic protections. However, the regime often assigns to the security courts cases which, on their merits, would appear to fall under the jurisdiction of the regular courts. Trials in the regular courts are public, and defendants are entitled to counsel--at government expense in the case of indigents. Defense lawyers have the right to review the charges and evidence brought against their clients. There is no jury system: panels of three judges try cases. Defendants have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal and then to the Court of Cassation, the highest Court.

The Special Rapporteur reported that the regular courts often assign penalties that are "disproportionate" to the offense (see Section 1.c.). Decree 13 of 1992 imposes the death penalty for automobile theft. In 1994 the Government announced the death penalty would be invoked for automobile smuggling, various categories of thievery, and solicitation for the purposes of prostitution. As of late 1994, the penalty for possession of stolen goods was life in prison.

Similarly, the Government shields certain groups from prosecution for alleged crimes. A 1992 decree grants immunity from prosecution to members of the Ba'ath Party and the security forces who may cause death while in the pursuit of army deserters. A 1990 decree grants immunity to men who kill their mothers, daughters, and other female family members who have committed "immoral deeds."There are no Shari'a, or Islamic law, courts as such. Regular courts are empowered to administer Islamic law in cases involving personal status, such as divorce and inheritance. In 1994 the regime introduced Shari'a punishments for some types of criminal offenses and for military desertion (see Section 1.b.).

Special security courts have jurisdiction in all cases involving espionage and treason, peaceful political dissent, smuggling, currency exchange violations, and drug trafficking. According to the Special Rapporteur, military officers or civil servants with no legal training head these tribunals, which hear cases in secret. Authorities often hold the defendants in incommunicado detention and do not permit them to have contact with their lawyers. The courts admit confessions extracted by torture which often serve as the basis for conviction. Although defendants may appeal their sentences to Saddam Hussein, many cases appear to end in summary execution shortly after trial.

Because the Government rarely acknowledges arrests or imprisonments, it is difficult to estimate the number of political prisoners. Many of the tens of thousands of persons who have disappeared or been killed in recent years were originally held as political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Government frequently disregards the constitutional right to privacy, particularly in cases in which national security is alleged to be involved. The law defines security offenses so broadly that authorities are virtually exempt from the legal requirement to obtain search warrants. In 1994 the authorities subjected the Shi'a religious clergy, Shi'a Muslim inhabitants of the southern marshes, and various ethnic minorities to searches without warrants (see Section 1.g.). The regime routinely ignores the constitutional provisions safeguarding the confidentiality of mail and telegraphic correspondence and telephone conversations.

The security services and the Ba'ath Party maintain pervasive networks of informers to deter dissident activity and instill fear in the public. As the Special Rapporteur noted in his February report, "the fear of informers and subsequent severe reprisals have prevented virtually the entire population from expressing genuinely held opinions which are not consistent with those of the Government."

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts

In 1994 as in previous years, the armed forces conducted deliberate artillery attacks against civilians in the southern marshes. The marshes historically have been inhabited mostly by Shi'a Muslims, but in recent years they have also become a refuge for army deserters and displaced civilians. As a result, the marshes are the site of guerrilla resistance. The Gulf War allies imposed a "no-fly zone" over southern Iraq in 1992. It continues to deter aerial attacks on the marsh dwellers, but does not prevent artillery attacks or the military's large-scale burning operations.

Ongoing military operations have destroyed the traditional way of life of the marsh Arab Shi'a. Credible reports describe a continuing process of large-scale environmental destruction in the marshes caused by the Government's burning, draining, and water-diversion projects. The army has constructed canals, causeways, and earthen berms to divert water from the wetlands. Hundreds of square kilometers of marsh areas have been burned, imperiling the marshes' ecosystem.

The Government claims the drainage is part of a land reclamation plan to increase the acreage of arable land, spur agricultural production, and reduce salt pollution in the Tigris and Euphrates. However, the evidence of large-scale humanitarian and ecological destruction appears to belie this claim. Aerial and satellite photography made public by the U.S. Government in 1994 depicted the almost total destruction of the marshes. Moreover, the regime's diversion of supplies in the south limited the population's access to food, medicine, drinking water, and transportation.

As the marshes dried, military units launched land-based attacks on villages. On March 4, the military began the largest search-and-destroy operation in the marshes in 2 years. The offensive included the razing of villages and burning operations concentrated in the triangle bounded by Nasiriyah, Al-Qurnah, and Basrah. The magnitude of the operation caused the inhabitants to flee in several directions: deeper into the marshes, to the outskirts of southern Iraqi cities, and to Iran.

According to opposition sources, military forces in late June attacked several marsh villages in Nassiriya province. Sources said that army engineers burned the village of Al-Abra, containing about 80 homes, to the ground. After the operation, the army transported the village's inhabitants from the scene.

According to opposition sources, security forces in early July stormed the villages of Al-Sajiya and Al-Majawid in Al-Chibaish district, near the main road leading into the marshes. Simultaneously, armor units supported by heavy artillery attacked the village of Al-Kheyout in the district of Al-Madina.

Also in July, the military conducted large-scale artillery bombardment in the Jindala area of the Al-Amarah marshes. Opposition sources said the bombardment destroyed several homes and injured several individuals. Security forces reportedly detained 15 youths and transported them from the area. Simultaneously, the military caused destruction and arrested inhabitants in Al-Hashriya, Al-Wasdiya, and Al-Malha.

In September opposition sources reported that military forces used incendiary bombs and launched an armored attack against the area of Al-Seigel in the Al-Amarah marshes. The army later set fire to the entire area. In 1994 military operations caused an undetermined number of civilian casualties in the marshes. More than 10,000 refugees from the marshes fled to Iran, where they joined between 50,000 and 60,000 who had fled in previous years.

In January the European Parliament (EP) passed a resolution characterizing the marsh Arabs as a persecuted minority "whose very survival is threatened by the Iraqi Government." The EP resolution described the Government's treatment of the marsh inhabitants as "genocide."According to Middle East Watch and U.S. Government researchers, government files captured by Kurdish rebels in 1991 contain a military plan for the destruction of the marshes and the people living there. The plan appears to have been approved at the highest levels of the Government. It is being implemented by Minister of Defense Ali Hassan Al-Majid, the military leader who supervised the Anfal Campaign.

The Special Rapporteur continues to note the similarity between the Government's "genocide-type operations" against the Kurds and its operations in southern Iraq. He stated in his February report that the extent of violations against the marsh inhabitants "places the survival of this indigenous population in jeopardy."In August the Special Rapporteur dispatched two of his assistants to the Iran-Iraq border to interview refugees fleeing the marshes. He reported in October that the refugees are generally in poor physical and psychological condition, having suffered extreme deprivation of food and medicine. He reiterated his "concern over the survival" of the marsh inhabitants "as a community."Regarding the Kurds, the Special Rapporteur reported in February that he also holds the Government responsible for "serious breaches" of the 1925 Geneva Protocol on the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare. He observed that these breaches may demonstrate the Government liable under the 1948 Genocide Convention. According to the Special Rapporteur, the activities of the Government during the Anfal Campaign "left virtually no Iraqi Kurd untouched." He concluded that "serious violations of human rights committed against the civilian population of Iraq both in times of war and peace involve crimes against humanity committed under and pursuant to the commands of Saddam Hussein and Ali Hassan al-Majid."The Special Rapporteur reported that he continued to receive accounts of mass graves in southern Iraq. Observers believe these graves contain the remains of persons killed following the civil uprising of March 1991. As the Government does not permit international visitors into these areas, forensics experts have not yet investigated the grave sites.

However, forensics experts continued to develop information obtained from mass grave sites in northern Iraq. These graves contain the remains of hundreds of persons presumed killed in the Anfal Campaign. According to opposition sources, a new mass grave, containing up to 250 bodies, was found in April near the Al-Sharqat district of Mosul. Sources said that the graves were discovered when heavy rains washed away the covering soil.

Based on forensic evidence and government documents seized by the Kurds in 1991, Middle East Watch and Physicians for Human Rights estimate that between 70,000 and 100,000 Kurds were killed, and up to 4,000 villages destroyed, during the Anfal Campaign. The evidence suggests that government efforts to eliminate Kurdish communities were widespread, systematically planned, and ruthlessly implemented.

The most flagrant example of current discrimination against the Kurds is the Government's ongoing internal embargo on the north, which includes necessities such as food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies. Since August 1993, the embargo also has included massive electric power cut-offs in specific areas, causing the spoilage of medicines, breakdowns in local water-purification systems, and the loss of certain hospital services. A disaster was averted only by the prompt action of the United Nations and donor governments, who imported and installed temporary generators to alleviate the crisis. Additional electricity cut-offs were imposed in August 1994. The embargo of the north has impacted not only Kurds but various other minorities such as Turcomans, who also live in the area. Operation Provide Comfort--the joint U.S., British, French, and Turkish command--continued in 1994 to inhibit government aerial attacks in the northern "no fly zone." However, the military forces continued intermittent, sometimes heavy shelling of northern villages by long-range artillery. On October 26, opposition media reported that shelling of villages in the Shawan region had resulted in several civilian casualties, one fatal.

Attacks on humanitarian relief efforts in northern Iraq continued throughout 1994. Two persons were killed in an execution-style shooting (see Section 1.a.). Several other international workers involved in the relief effort, including six United Nations guards, were injured in bombing and shooting attacks in March and April. On March 27, Iraqi security forces permitted a crowd in Mosul to attack and damage a U.N. helicopter attempting to airlift wounded guards to safety. Two Swedish journalists were injured in Aqrah on March 14 when a bomb exploded under their automobile. Some terrorist incidents pointed to government involvement, but there was insufficient information to determine the responsibility for other attacks. Innocent civilians were the victims of fighting between the guerilla forces of the two main Kurdish political parties--the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Heavy fighting between the two parties broke out in May, in August, and again in December, producing several hundred civilian casualties.

In 1994 civilians near the Turkish border were caught in raids by Turkish military forces on suspected hideouts of the extremist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). On August 8, Turkish planes bombed a camp near Zakho containing 10,000 Kurdish refugees from Turkey. Although the refugees suffered no casualties, 10 Iraqi guards were reported killed and 7 wounded. The Turkish Government claimed that PKK terrorists were hiding in the camps.

On August 23, Turkish planes attacking a PKK camp in Zele bombed the nearby village of Bidewan village, wounding 7 Iraqi Kurdish civilians. On September 8, Turkish planes again bombed the large concentration of Turkish refugees near Zakho. No injuries were reported, but several tents were destroyed.

Kurdish villages along the Iranian border were subjected to shelling by the Iranian military, as well as to sporadic Iranian military incursions into Iraqi territory. Opposition media reported that Iranian artillery shelled civilian areas in As-Suleymaniyah province the night of April 17-18. Iranian forces were also reportedly involved in fighting between the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties in August and December.

The Iranian military conducted attacks on Iranian opposition camps based in Iraq. On November 6, it launched a SCUD missile attack on a Mojahedin E-Khalq base located some 30 miles north of Baghdad. On November 9, Iranian jets bombed an Iranian Kurdish Democratic Party base in the town of Koi-Sanjaq in northern Iraq.

Land mines in northern Iraq continued to kill or maim civilians. Many of the mines were laid during the Iraq-Iraq War, but the army has failed to clear them. The mines appear to have been haphazardly planted in civilian areas. The Special Rapporteur has repeatedly reminded the Government of its obligations under the Land Mines Protocol, to which Iraq is a party, to protect civilians from the effects of mines.

Based on interviews with victims and eyewitnesses, the U.S. Government has concluded that the Iraqi regime engaged in war crimes--willful killing, torture, rape, pillage, hostage-taking, unlawful deportation, and related acts--directly related to the Gulf War. The U.S. Government urged the U.N. Security Council to create an international commission to study evidence of a broader range of war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity, and possible genocide.

At the end of 1994, Middle East Watch was preparing a charge of genocide that it hopes governments will bring against the Government of Iraq before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Middle East Watch reported that its case was based on a thorough review of evidence obtained from mass graves, government documents, and interviews with eyewitnesses.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech and of the press do not exist in areas under the Government's control, and political dissent is not tolerated in those areas. The Government and the Ba'ath Party own all print and broadcast media and operate them as propaganda outlets. They do not report opposition views.

The Special Rapporteur noted in his February report the extent to which the Government has criminalized most forms of personal expression. A 1986 decree stipulates the death penalty for anyone insulting the President or other high government officials. Section 214 of the Penal Code prohibits "singing a song likely to cause civil strife." Press Act 206 (1968) prohibits the writing of articles on 12 specific subjects, including those detrimental to the President.

The Government periodically jams news broadcasts, including those of opposition groups, from outside Iraq.

Various Ba'ath Party and presidential decrees define political dissent as encompassing a wide range of activities. Persons suspected of engaging in dissent are routinely imprisoned without charge or trial or after trials that do not meet minimum standards of fairness.

In northern Iraq, which is protected by international forces and is administered by a local de facto government, several newspapers have appeared over the past 3 years, as have opposition radio and television broadcasts.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Except in northern areas under the protection of international forces, the citizens may not legally assemble or organize for any political purpose other than to express support for the regime. By law, the Government controls the formation of parties, regulates their internal affairs and closely monitors their activities. Several parties are specifically outlawed, and membership in them is a capital offense. A 1974 law prescribes the death penalty for anyone "infiltrating" the Ba'ath Party.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Government severely limits this freedom. The Provisional Constitution of 1968 states that "Islam is the religion of the State." The Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs monitors places of worship, appoints the clergy, and approves the publication of religious literature.

Although Shi'a Muslim Arabs, who are between 60 and 65 percent of the population, are the largest ethnoreligious group, Sunni Arabs, who comprise only about 12 to 15 percent of the population, have traditionally dominated economic and political life. Despite legal guarantees of sectarian equality, the Government has in recent years repressed the Shi'a clergy and followers of the Shi'a faith. Security forces have wantonly desecrated Shi'a mosques and holy sites, particularly in the aftermath of the 1991 civil uprisings.

The following government restrictions on religious rights remained in effect throughout 1994: a ban on the Muslim call to prayer in certain cities; a ban on the broadcast of Shi'a programs on government radio or television; a ban on the publication of Shi'a books, including prayer books; a ban on funeral processions; and the prohibition of certain processions and public meetings commemorating Shi'a holy days. Moreover, the Government also continued to insist that its own appointee replace the late Grand Ayatollah Abul Qasim Al-Khoei, formerly the highest ranking Shi'a clergyman, who died in Government custody in 1992 (see Section 1.b.). The Shi'a religious establishment refuses to accept the Government's choice.

The Government also continued to harass and threaten members of the late Ayatollah Al-Khoei's family. Circumstantial evidence pointed to the regime's involvement in the July deaths of several members of the Al-Khoei family (see Sections 1.a. and 1.b.).

The Special Rapporteur reports that the Government has engaged in various abuses against the Christian Assyrian community, which numbers about 350,000. Most Assyrians have traditionally lived in the north, and the Government often has suspected them of "collaborating" with Kurds. Military forces destroyed many Assyrian churches during the Anfal Campaign, and reportedly tortured and executed many Assyrians (see Section 4).

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government controls movement within the country of citizens and foreigners. Persons who enter sensitive border areas and numerous designated security zones are subject to arrest (see Section 1.d.). Police checkpoints are common on major roads and highways.

The Government requires citizens to obtain expensive exit visas for foreign travel. Citizens may not make more than two trips abroad annually. The Goverment reportedly prohibits some citizens from all international travel. Before traveling abroad, citizens are required to post collateral with the Government which is refundable only upon their return to Iraq. There are restrictions on the amount of currency that may be taken out of the country. Women are not permitted to travel outside Iraq alone; male relatives must escort them.

The Government continued to pursue its discriminatory resettlement policies, including demolition of villages and forced relocations of Kurds, Turcomans, and other minorities. Middle East Watch reported that the Government was continuing to force Kurdish residents of Mosul to move to Kurdish-controlled areas in the north. However, the Government directed most of its resettlement efforts in 1994 at residents of the southern marshes. According to the Special Rapporteur, security forces relocate marsh inhabitants detained during the course of military operations to the main southern cities. They were later transferred to detention centers and prisons in central Iraq, primarily in Baghdad. Opposition sources reported in September that the Government had relocated more than 300 families from the marshes to a detention area in Diwaniya province. The authorities reportedly returned other families who had taken refuge in Baghdad to the province of Amara. Large numbers of Shi'a refugees from southern Iraq fled to Iran, particularly after the escalation in military activity in March. It was difficult to estimate the number of persons displaced by these operations, due to the lack of international monitors in the area. However, in late 1994 the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that more than 10,000 refugees from the marshes were in camps in Iran. Amar Appeal, a charitable organization operating several of the camps, placed the number at more than 35,000. U.S. Government analysts estimated in September that more than 200,000 of the 250,000 former inhabitants of the marshes had been driven from the area since 1991 (see also Section 1.a.).

In February 1994, the Special Rapporteur noted that the Government in 1993 had expelled several "Faili," or Shi'a, Kurdish families. Faili Kurds, who have traditionally lived in the mountainous region bordering Iran, were the victims of mass deportations in the 1970's and 1980's.

The Special Rapporteur reported that in recent years the Government may have expelled a total of more than 1 million persons suspected of being "Persian sympathizers." According to the Special Rapporteur, about 500,000 of these displaced persons are believed to live in Iran.

According to the UNHCR, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees remained abroad--mainly in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, and Jordan. Apart from those suspected of sympathizing with Iran, most fled after the Government's suppression of the civil uprising of 1991; others are Kurds who fled the Anfal Campaign of 1988. The UNHCR assists many refugees, notably in Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey.

Of the 1.5 million refugees who fled following the 1991 uprising, the great majority, particularly Kurds, have repatriated themselves to northern Iraq, in areas where the allies have prohibited overflights by Iraqi aircraft. Several hundred thousand Kurds remain unsettled in northern Iraq because political circumstances do not permit them to return to their former homes in Government-controlled territory.

Moreover, northern Iraq is host to about 10,000 recently arrived Turkish Kurds, who have fled civil strife in southeastern Turkey (see the report on Turkey), in response to the Turkish government's counterinsurgency campaign against the PKK. The UNHCR is treating these displaced persons as refugees until it reaches an official determination on their status. In late 1994, the UNHCR relocated the Turkish Kurds to protect them from periodic raids by Turkish military aircraft (see Section 1.g.).

Students abroad who refuse to return are required to reimburse any expenses paid by the Government. Each student wishing to travel abroad must provide a guarantor. The guarantor and the student's parents may be liable if the student fails to return.

Foreign spouses of citizens who have resided in Iraq for 5 years are required to apply for nationality. The requirement is 1 year of residence for the spouses of Iraqi citizens employed in government offices. Many foreigners thus have been obliged to accept citizenship and are subject to official travel restrictions. The penalties for noncompliance include loss of job, a substantial financial penalty, and repayment for any governmental educational expenses.

The Government prevents many citizens who also hold citizenship in another country--especially the children of Iraqi fathers and foreign-born mothers--from visiting the country of their other nationality.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens do not have the right to change their government. The only free and open local elections have been held in Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq. Full political participation at the national level is confined to members of the Ba'ath Party, estimated at about 8 percent of the population. The National Assembly is completely subordinate to the executive branch.

Saddam Hussein wields decisive power over all instruments of government. Almost all powerful officials are either members of the President's family or longtime family allies from his home town of Tikrit.

Opposition political organizations are illegal and severely suppressed. Membership in certain political parties is punishable by death (see Section 2.b.). In 1991 the RCC adopted a law that theoretically authorized the creation of political parties other than the Ba'ath, but in practice, the law reinforced the preeminent position of the Ba'ath Party by prohibiting parties that do not support Saddam Hussein and the present Government. New parties must be based in Baghdad and are forbidden to have any ethnic or religious character.

The Government does not recognize the various political groupings and parties that have been formed by Shi'a Muslims, as well as the Kurdish, Assyrian, and Turcoman communities. These political groups continued to attract support notwithstanding their illegal status.

In northern Iraq, all central government functions have been performed by local administrators--mainly Kurds--since the Government withdrew its forces from the area after the 1991 uprising. In May 1992, political parties in the north participated in elections to choose representatives to a regional parliament. The elections also produced de facto local government administrators, who manage the affairs of the security zone--which is protected by allied military forces--and adjacent areas.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

The Government does not permit the establishment of independent human rights organizations. It operates an official human rights group which routinely denies allegations of abuses. Citizens have established several human rights groups abroad and in northern areas not under government control.

As in 1993, the Government did not allow the Special Rapporteur to visit Iraq. It failed to respond to his requests for information on particular human rights cases and condemned his recommendation that human rights monitors be stationed throughout Iraq. For the third consecutive year, the UNHRC called on the U.N. Secretary General to send human rights monitors to "help in the independent verification of reports on the human rights situation in Iraq." The U.N. Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities adopted a resolution reiterating the UNHRC request for the deployment of monitors. In December the U.N. General Assembly once again endorsed the request of the Human Rights Commission for monitors for Iraq.

The Special Rapporteur dispatched members of his staff--in late December 1993 to Turkey and in August 1994 to Iran--to interview victims of Iraqi human rights abuses. The U.N. Human Rights Centre hired another part-time employee in 1994 to assist the Special Rapporteur who nevertheless asserted that he needs further resources to carry out his mandate.

Several major human rights organizations, including Middle East Watch and AI, released new reports on Iraq during the year. The Amar Appeal, a London-based charitable organization which assists Iraqi refugees from the southern marshes, issued a study detailing the ecological destruction of the marshes and its consequences for the marsh inhabitants. The U.S. Government also issued a report on that subject.

The Iraqi Government continued to defy various calls from United Nations bodies to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the marshes and interview refugees. In 1994 the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the U.N. Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, and the U.N. General Assembly all adopted resolutions condemning the Government's human rights violations.

The Government failed to comply with the provision of UNSCR 688, which insists that the Government afford immediate, unrestricted access by humanitarian workers to all those in need of assistance in all parts of Iraq. Throughout 1994, the Government threatened, harassed, and assaulted employees of the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations (see Section 1.g.).

Throughout 1994 the Government refused to implement UNSCR Resolutions 706 and 712, which would allow it to sell oil and purchase humanitarian goods, the equitable distribution of which the United Nations would monitor. The Special Rapporteur noted in his February report that the Government failed to provide for the basic humanitarian needs of its civilian population and that it is obligated to do so as a signatory to the United Nations Charter. The Special Rapporteur reported that in September the Government cut food subsidies by one-third. He once again called on the Government to implement UNSC Resolutions 706 and 712.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status


The Government claims that it is committed to equality for women, who make up about 20 percent of the work force. It has enacted laws to protect women from exploitation in the workplace and from sexual harassment; to permit women to join the regular army, Popular Army, and police forces; to require education for female children; and to equalize women's rights in divorce, land ownership, taxation, suffrage, and election to the National Assembly. It is difficult to determine to what extent these protections are afforded in practice. Reports indicate, however, that the application of these laws has declined as Iraq's political and economic crisis persists.

Familial violence against women, such as wife beating and rape, is known to occur, but little is known about its extent. Such abuse is customarily addressed within the tightly knit family structure. There is no public discussion of the subject, and the Government issues no statistics. Spousal violence constitutes grounds for divorce and criminal charges, but suits brought on these charges are believed to be rare.

The Special Rapporteur has commented on the high incidence of rape committed by the armed forces and security services (see Section 1.b.). He noted that an unusually high percentage of the northern population is female, due to the disappearances of tens of thousands of Kurdish men in the Anfal Campaign. The Special Rapporteur has reported that the widows, daughters, and mothers of Anfal victims are economically dependent on their relatives or villages because they may not inherit the property or assets of their missing family members. Other reports suggest that economic destitution has forced many women into prostitution.

Evidence concerning the Anfal Campaign of 1988 indicates that the Government killed many women and children, including infants, by firing squads and in chemical attacks.


No information is available on whether the Government has enacted specific legislation to promote the welfare of children. However, the Special Rapporteur and several human rights groups have collected a substantial body of evidence pointing to the Government's continuing disregard for the rights and welfare of children.

The Government failure to comply with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions has led to a continuation of economic sanctions. As a result, general economic and health conditions throughout Iraq have deteriorated dramatically. Children have been particularly susceptible to the decline in the standard of living. Increases in child mortality and disease rates have been reported.

The Special Rapporteur has observed that, under these circumstances, the Government has special obligations to ensure that the most vulnerable groups in the population have adequate food and health care. The Special Rapporteur stated in his February report that Iraq's refusal to implement U.N. Security Council Resolutions 706 and 712, which would permit a one-time sale of oil in order to finance the import of humanitarian goods, has had an adverse effect on vulnerable populations, including children.

In October the Special Rapporteur reported that "the obvious imbalance between military expenditure and resources allocated to the fields of health care and education clearly illustrates the priorities of the Government." The Special Rapporteur has repeatedly observed that the ongoing bombardment of civilian settlements in the southern marshes has resulted in the deaths of many innocent persons, including women, children, and the elderly.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity of society is not reflected in the country's political and economic structure. Sunni Arabs, a small minority of the population, have effectively controlled Iraq since independence in 1932. Shi'a Arabs, the overwhelming majority of the population, have long been economically, politically, and socially disadvantaged. Like the Sunni Kurds of the north, the Shi'a Arabs of the south have been targeted for particular discrimination and abuse, ostensibly because of their opposition to the Government.

The security forces in 1994 reportedly were still encamped in the shrine to Imam Ali at Al-Najaf, one of Shi'a Islam's holiest sites, using it as an interrogation center. The former Shi'a theological school in Al-Najaf, which the Government closed following the 1991 uprising, was used as a public market in 1994. Security forces continued to expel foreign Muslim clerics from Al-Najaf, under the pretext that the clerics' visas had expired. Other aspects of government repression of the Shi'a are discussed in Section 2.c. and various parts of Section 1.

The Kurds, who make up approximately 20 percent of the population, historically have suffered political and economic discrimination, despite the token presence of a small number in the national Government (see Sections 1.a., 1.b., and 1.g.).

Assyrians are an ethnic as well as religious group (see Section 2.c.), and speak a distinct language--Syriac. Public instruction in Syriac, which was to have been allowed under a 1972 decree, has never been implemented. In 1994 the Special Rapporteur stated that in late 1993 the Government dismissed or expelled hundreds of Assyrian teachers and students from universities and public positions.

Citizens considered to be of Iranian origin must carry special identification and are often precluded from desirable employment. Over the years, the Government has deported hundreds of thousands of citizens of Iranian origin (see Section 2.d.).

People with Disabilities

No information is available on the Government's efforts to assist people with disabilities.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

Although Iraq is a party to the 1919 Constitution of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which guarantees the freedom of association, trade unions independent of government control do not exist in Iraq. The Trade Union Organization Law of June 2, 1987, prescribes a monolithic trade union structure for organized labor.

Workers in private and mixed enterprises and cooperatives--but not public employees or workers in state enterprises--have the right to join local union committees. The committees are affiliated with individual trade unions, which in turn belong to the Iraqi General Federation of Trade Unions. The General Federation is linked to the Ba'ath Party, which uses it to promote party principles and policies among union members. The General Federation also is affiliated with the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions and the formerly Soviet-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions.

The Labor Law of 1987 restricts the right to strike. No strike has been reported over the past two decades.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right to bargain collectively is not recognized. Salaries for public sector workers (the majority of the employed) are set by the Government. Wages in the much smaller private sector are set by employers or negotiated individually with workers.

The Labor Code does not protect workers from antiunion discrimination, a failure that has been criticized repeatedly by the ILO's Committee of Experts. There are no export processing zones in Iraq.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Compulsory labor is theoretically prohibited by law. However, the Penal Code stipulates prison sentences, including compulsory labor, for civil servants and employees of state enterprises accused of breaches of labor "discipline," including resigning from the job. According to the ILO, foreign workers in Iraq have been prevented from terminating their employment to return to their native countries because of government-imposed penal sanctions on persons who do so.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Employment of children under age 14 is prohibited except in small-scale family enterprises. Many children are encouraged to work to support their families. The law stipulates that employees between the ages of 14 and 18 work fewer hours per week than adults.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Theoretically, most workers in urban areas work a 6-day, 48-hour workweek. Hours for government employees are set by the head of each ministry. In practice, the rate of absenteeism was abnormally high in 1994, as socioeconomic conditions deteriorated.

Working hours for agricultural workers vary according to individual employer-employee agreements. Occupational safety programs are in effect in state-run enterprises. Inspectors theoretically inspect private establishments, but enforcement varies widely.


[1]* The United States does not have an embassy in Iraq. This report draws to a large extent on non-U.S. Government sources

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