Seeking redress for the people of Iraq

  • Date

    Thu 14 Dec 17

Iraqi woman sitting beside a grave

Decades of conflict in Iraq have left millions displaced and many thousands killed. In a new report one of our leading human rights experts has shown how redress must be secured for the victims of atrocities.

Drawing on her work on reparations in transitional societies including Colombia and Chile, Professor Clara Sandoval has now leant her expertise to a new report – Reparations for the victims of conflict in Iraq: Lessons learned from comparative practice - commissioned by Minority Rights Group.

Among a number of recommendations, Professor Sandoval and her co-author Miriam Puttick have advised the Iraqi Government to strengthen the capacity of its institutions, acknowledge violations committed by all parties, expand the scope of reparations to include mental and sexual violence, and establish a central register of victims.

They have also urged the international community to properly investigate instances of civilian casualties caused by international military intervention.

Professor Sandoval explained: “Iraq is a country with significant experience dealing with reparation for victims of atrocities as evidenced by the work of the UN Compensation Commission that provided redress for victims of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

“The latest of those efforts is the Law on Compensating Victims of Military Operations, Military Mistakes and Terrorist Actions. While it constitutes an important effort to redress victims, the conflict situation in the country poses significant challenges for any work on redress.

“Furthermore, the institutions responsible for reparation as well as the scope and reach of this Law needs to be reformed to better respond and capture the extent of the harm caused.”

Iraq has been devastated by decades of violence during Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the occupation of the country by the US and its allies, and most recently the conflict with so-called Islamic State.

The conflict with IS alone has led to the displacement of over 3.1 million people, the killing of thousands, and targeted campaigns against ethnic and religious communities.

It has also resulted in widespread damage to infrastructure and personal property while state institutions in large parts of the country have been left paralysed and incapable of providing basic services to citizens.

In the midst of conflict, Iraq has tried to provide reparation to victims. This report takes account of that effort and provides the state with important insights as to how to improve redress for victims of atrocities in the future, bearing in mind relevant international experiences.

Reparations for the victims of conflict in Iraq: Lessons learned from comparative practice seeks to inform debate on reparations through analysis of both international and domestic practice.