New Report: Women Illegally Incarcerated and Tortured in Iraqi Prisons
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:25 PM

Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international NGO with staff in 40 countries, released a report documenting numerous cases of illegal incarceration, torture and rape among women and girls held in prisons in Iraq. HRW interviewed dozens of people with knowledge of the Iraqi prison system to prepare the report, including 27 women and 7 girls who were detained in Iraqi jails, often on terrorism charges.

According to the report, there is strong evidence security forces regularly conduct mass arrests and detain women for crimes the women say they did not commit, or for the alleged crimes of their male relatives. The women and girls interviewed described being threatened, raped and tortured until they made confessions later used to convict them in court or to pressure male relatives. In support of these statements, more than 10 of the women interviewed showed the researchers physical scars that aligned with their stories of severe mistreatment. One woman on death row was executed several months after meeting with human rights workers, despite physical evidence of torture and the dismissal of terrorism charges against her by Iraqi courts.

The Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani denies the abuse of women in prisons is a national problem and says reports of torture that have emerged are irregular cases. However, the scope of this report suggests otherwise and it makes a number of recommendations to remedy the documented and ongoing human rights abuses by Iraq security forces. Recommendations include official acknowledgement of the prevalence of abuse in the Iraqi justice system, adequate enforcement of provisions in Iraq’s Code of Criminal Procedure that protect women from arbitrary arrest, detention and abuse, and amendments to Iraq’s Anti-Terrorism Law.   

Compiled from: “No One is Safe”: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System”Human Rights Watch (February 2014); Iraq: Security Forces Abusing Women in Detention, Human Rights Watch (6 February 2014).