Iraq: UN human rights expert wraps up visit,
first after 10-year hiatus


19 February - The first United Nations human rights expert to visit Iraq in 10 years has completed an initial trip to the country after holding talks with government officials and visiting several correctional and educational facilities and religious sites.

Ambassador Andreas Mavrommatis, Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, concluded a three-day “exploratory” mission during which he had, in general, “a meaningful exchange of views with the Government on human rights issues,” according to a statement released in Geneva by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Special Rapporteur, who is now preparing to report to the Commission at its annual meeting next month, “expected that this dialogue might be continued in the future with a view to achieving concrete positive results,” the statement said.
“Given the nature and duration of the mission, only a pre-selected number of human rights issues were discussed during those meetings, including the question of missing persons and prisoners of war, the right to life, religious freedom, rule of law, the rights and status of minorities, the situation of women as well as economic and social rights,” the statement said.
During the visit, Ambassador Mavrommatis’s delegation met with several Government ministers, parliamentarians, politicians and religious dignitaries, as well as two prominent Kurdish persons from Baghdad. The delegation also held discussions with the president and judges of a criminal court in Baghdad, and with the chairman and members of the Iraqi Bar Association.
According to the Special Rapporteur, the meetings with Foreign Ministry officials, including those from the Department for Human Rights, “constituted the first step in a proposed constructive dialogue.”
The UN delegation visited two prisons, a hospital for children, a food distribution outlet, a local primary school in Baghdad, as well as religious sites in Baghdad and Kerballa.
The Special Rapporteur also met with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Tun Myat, and other senior UN officials, who, he said, “provided useful background information.”
Prior to this visit, the Government of Iraq had accepted only one mission, conducted in 1992 by the then Special Rapporteur, Max van der Stoel.
Source: UN News Centre on the UN Web site