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Human Rights Watch releases report on human rights situation, including conditions for journalists

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - Beirut, February 21, 2011 - The rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees, are routinely violated with impunity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch conducted research in seven cities across Iraq during 2010 and found that, beyond the country's continuing violence and crimes, human rights abuses are commonplace.

The 102-page report, "At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years After the US-led Invasion," calls on the government to protect the rights of vulnerable groups and to amend its penal code and all other laws that discriminate against women and violate freedom of speech. The report also urges Baghdad to open independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of abuse against detainees, minorities, and journalists.

"Eight years after the US invasion, life in Iraq is actually getting worse for women and minorities, while journalists and detainees face significant rights violations," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Today, Iraq is at a crossroads - either it embraces due process and human rights or it risks reverting to a police state."

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Although improvements in security since 2008 have reduced the murder rate of media workers, journalism is a hazardous occupation in Iraq, Human Rights Watch said. Extremists and unidentified assailants kill journalists and bomb their offices. Increasingly, journalists find themselves harassed, intimidated, threatened, detained, and physically assaulted by security forces attached to government institutions or political parties. Senior politicians are quick to sue journalists and their publications for unflattering articles.

"Watching what's happened in the streets of Egypt and Tunisia, the Iraqi government should take meaningful steps to protect freedom of speech," said Stork.

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Click here to read the entire press release and access the report

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