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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

IRAQ: Judges complete first human rights law course

ANKARA , 10 March 2004 (IRIN) - Over 50 Iraqi jurists and lawyers have completed their first course in international human rights law run by the International Bar Association (IBA), the association said in a statement on Tuesday.

The five-day intensive course, held in Dubai on 23-27 February, is the first in a series of courses planned to train members of the Iraqi judiciary in human rights law. It is run by the London-based IBA under the auspices of the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

"People found it invaluable and very emotional. Human rights is not a theoretical subject for them as many of them have lived it or seen members of their families affected. For them it's very real," Tim Hughes, IBA deputy executive director, told IRIN from London on Wednesday.

In the coming two years the IBA hopes to train over 800 judges, lawyers and prosecutors to help rebuild Iraq's legal framework and legal institutions as part of the post-Saddam reconstruction effort.

"We've been hearing about human rights but we were unable to talk about or learn about international human rights. The world is open up for us now. We're back on track," Najat Faidh Allah Shaheen, a lawyer from Iraq, said.

Hughes said that one of the ultimate goals of the course is to allow legal professionals to become trainers in their own right, so creating a cascade effect. He added that the great majority who took part in the course applied to be trainers.

Taking part in the course were lawyers, judges and prosecutors from all over Iraq, representing both main religious groups and all levels of seniority, the IBA said. Of the 51 participants, 10 were women.

"We are looking for a careful balance," Hughes said.

The next five-day course will take place in April. It will once again be held in Dubai as a result of ongoing security risks in Iraq, Hughes said. The selection process for participants in this course is currently taking place, he added.

IBA executive director Mark Ellis told IRIN last month that filtering out judges who had been involved in the previous regime was one of "the real complexities of the project". Hughes agreed that this issue was the most sensitive one but said the IBA was receiving very good guidance from people in the country.

The IBA comprises 16,000 individual lawyers and over 190 Bar Associations and Law Societies.

Themes: (IRIN) Governance



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