ARTICLE: Iraq’s next parliamentary elections: the stakes
By Zaid Al-Ali, April 17, 2014
Violence in Iraq has surged in recent months to levels not seen for years. Al-Qaida is resurgent, explosions continue to rip through civilian neighbourhoods and foreign backed militias are engaged in combat in broad daylight, sometimes alongside government forces. Large swathes of the country are now out of the state’s control, others are subject to a constant barrage of shelling, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes. Many of the gruesome practices that were common during the civil conflict, including beheadings, are once again an almost daily occurrence. Why is all this happening now and is there a solution?
Some of the causes for this desperate state of affairs are beyond the government’s capacity to control, including the conflict in Syria and the obvious spillover effect it has had in Iraq. Nevertheless, the government has clearly exacerbated security risks by engaging in highly questionable practices for years now. Amongst other things, various sources including the United Nations, international and Iraqi human rights organisations and the ministry of human rights, have documented serious abuses in detention. Men and women are still arrested in large numbers for no good reason, maintained in detention without charge for weeks, sometimes months, and subjected to brutal treatment. If their cases are brought to court and they are found not-guilty, they are maintained in detention illegally merely so that prison officers can extract bribes from desperate family members. The due process rules that are provided for in the constitution are totally ignored.