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Ministry of Justice

The mission of the Ministry of Justice is to institute rule of law in Iraq and restore non-judicial Ministry functions. The Ministry has responsibility for Iraqi courts, prosecutors, judicial and prosecutorial training, publishing the Legal Gazette (all laws and proclamations), notaries public, deeds & records, and since June 5, 2004, prisons.

The Ministry of Justice encompassed approximately 12,000 employees, about 130 courthouses (with an estimated 48 in operation as of early July 2003), with about 400 courts (with an estimated 100 in operation as of July 5, 2003). By 2007 the Ministry had 16,319 employees.

As of early July 2003, the CPA Senior Advisor assigned to the Ministry of Justice was Judge Donald F. Campbell. Following the cessation of major combat operations, the majority of the Ministry of Justice's buildings had suffered extensive damage from looting and were, as a result, non-functional. Our of Baghdad's 18 courthouses, 12 had been gutted, with approximately 75% of the remaining estimated 110 courthouses in Iraq (outside Kurdish regions) destroyed as well. At the time, neither courts nor other central ministry functions were operating. While many Ministry employees continued to report for work, no work could be performed. The exception to this was the Kurdish region were the system continued to operate.

While many complaints existed about the Ministry of Justice's prevalent Ba'athism and ubiquitous corruption, the Ministry was nonetheless considered to have less of a Ba'athist taint than other Ministries in the Iraqi government as a consequence of the fact that the judiciary had not previously been perceived as a fast track to success. Indeed, only 35 of 12,000 employees were in top four Ba'ath party levels. Additionnally, Saddam Hussein routinely diverted all cases of interest to regime to special security, military, police, and other courts. Nevertheless, according to the de-Ba'athification policy, all top officials, including Directors General, were interviewed and screened. This resulted in five directors general being removed for party affiliation, with exceptions requested for two still pending, as of mi-2003. The Minister himself had fled.

Detention centers were the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior; prisons fell under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs. Both types of holding facility were in deplorable condition at war's end.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the Ministry of Justice proceeded to consolidate all Baghdad criminal court functions into the two operational Baghdad courthouses on May 8, 2003. Emergency payments of $20 were disbursed in Baghdad on May 10, 2003, with additional emergency payments of $30 and salaries in Baghdad and some governorates on June 1, 2003. Regular payments are now underway.

The Ministry also assumed responsibility for prisons pursuant to CPA Order No. 10., and following prisons standards set by CPA Memorandum No. 2. As of early July 2003, an estimated 8 prison facilities were operating nationwide, though a need was identified for a maximum-security prison.

Extensive facilities repairs were also underway with a total of $480,000 secured for emergency repairs; and over $2M for repairs generally needed.

The Ministry building, was as of July 2003 partially operable with work ongoing. The Iraqi Judicial College (formerly the Judicial Training Institute), which had been completely gutted, was repaired with USAID assistance and re-opened on June 17, 2003, the first major reconstruction projected completed since Saddam's fall.

Subject to CPA Order No. 7, the 1969 Penal Code was amended to repeal a number of provisions inconsistent with fundamental human rights. So too was the 1971 Penal Procedure Code, subject to CPA Memorandum No. 3, which established new rights such as the right to counsel (with a new public defender program being developed); the right against self-incrimination; the right to be informed of these rights; and the absolute exclusion of evidence obtained by torture. Along the lines of legal reforms, a comprehensive National Judicial Assessment was conducted from May-June 2003.

A Judicial Review Committee was established to vet every judge and prosecutor for Ba'athist links, corruption, complicity in human rights abuses, other malfeasance. It also began reviewing judges and prosecutors, starting with personnel for Central Criminal Court of Iraq. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq, composed of the best judges and prosecutors from around country, was formed to try cases of national importance and will serve as a model for the Iraqi judiciary of substantive and procedural fairness. It was aimed to begin operations in July 2003.

The Ministry of Justice's Legal Gazette also resumed publishing on June 17, 2003. The Legal Gazette contains all Coalition orders, regulations, etc. and has been published since 1920's. A Pro bono program was esablished, with $100,000 in funding, with lawyers performing legal services to needy clients and in exchange receiving $2 per hour, for up to 125 hours. As of early July 2003, approximately $80,000 had been disbursed so far. A Comprehensive National Policy Guidance was also disseminated on June 27, 2003.

As of early July 2003, Medhat Mahmood was to be appointed acting officer-in-charge of the Ministry of Justice. He was the President of the State Judicial Advisory Council. Never a Ba'athist, he attended the Donor Conference in New York held in June 2003. Continued plans for the Minsitry of Justice plans called for continuing reconstruction efforts, building a criminal defense counsel program, implementing and inculcating new criminal justice rights, getting Judicial Review Committee work underway, getting the Central Criminal Court of Iraq to begin proceedings in July 2003, having the Judicial Inspection Unit as follow-on to Judicial Review Committee to maintain standards and pursuing the de-Ba'athification policy.

While legally a period of occupation until an Iraqi government is established, Iraqi laws remain in effect, though adjustments are being made to take into considerations amendments to the 1969 code which are inconsistent with international and human rights law.

The Council of Judges intended to form a Close Personal Protection Force Protection School to train personnel both for Personal Security Details (PSD) for judges, and prosecutors and high-risk Witness Security Details. The Iraqi justice system lacked the technical expertise needed to train individuals as PSDs. Specifically, assistance is needed in close personal protection and force protection measures. In the area of high-risk protection services, it is critical to have expert trainers on hand to establish a baseline regimen of training evolutions. This expert training is dependent upon real world operational experience of the individual trainers and their experience as trainers of governmental units of countries going through the pains of reconstruction. Beginning on or about 10 July 2004 and continuing for each of the next six months, and renewable thereafter, for an additional 12 months, a contractor would train Iraqi personnel in close personal protection techniques and force protection measures. The contractor would run 18, 28-day PSD classes (consisting of multiple courses), starting 15 July, going with two overlapping classes (approximately 266 students each) per month until approximately 1595 graduates were realized after six months, approximately 4800 after 18 months.

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Page last modified: 12-01-2012 18:11:26 ZULU