UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
IRAQ: Judiciary receives boost from UK training funds
ANKARA, 18 February 2004 (IRIN) - The Iraqi judiciary has been given a boost with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) providing some US $4 million to rehabilitate the legal system which has been in tatters for the past 30 years.
"The main focus will be on training Iraqi judges, defence lawyers and prosecutors on human rights law, focusing on an agenda from international human rights," executive director of the International Bar Association, and a board member of the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), Mark Ellis, told IRIN from London on Wednesday.
ILAC will manage the programme in collaboration with the Iraqi Minister of Justice, Chief Justice and President of the Bar Association in Baghdad.
"The focus is really to engage our Iraqi colleagues in discussing these principles which are common regardless of the jurisdiction of the particular legal system, so that's the first part of the training," he added.
The second phase of training will focus on international and humanitarian law, covering war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. "This is a very important area of course for Iraqis undertaking their own trials, whether it's Saddam Hussein or individuals who've committed atrocities over the past 30 years. It's an area of law which is rather complicated too," he explained.
With training due to start next month, a filtering system is taking place to find the most suitable candidates for training. "There are still judges in the legal system who were part of the previous regime and that's one of the real complexities of this whole project," Ellis said. "One of our tasks is to identify individuals from the legal system who are not tainted by theprevious regime and to identify individuals who can be trained in international law and are open to a new day in Iraq. This is an ongoing process," he added.
On the announcement of the DFID funds for training and increasing capacity for the Iraq judiciary, Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development said: "Over the last 30 years Iraq's judicial system was deeply politicised. Corruption, torture and other abuses by law enforcement agencies were widespread. This assistance will provide much needed help to the reform process which is so critical to the wider rebuilding of Iraqi society".
Due to the security situation, Ellis said all training would be conducted outside Iraq. "The judges will be brought out and trained in other countries, then our plan is to move training inside Iraq, once security situation allows us to move in and train Iraqis to train others and build up their capacity."
At present Iraq is being run by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) with a US appointed Iraqi Governing Council which uses a combination of laws taken from those prior to the Baathist control mixed with international laws. "The new war crimes tribunal has a statute of Iraqi and international law. I suspect that is what you will see happening in Iraq in the near future when new laws are drafted," he said.
The CPA is due to hand over sovereignty to a transitional government after 30 June.
Themes: (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Human Rights
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