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Baghdad - Iraq still has "serious problems" in terms of human rights and the situation remains fragile, despite authorities voicing support for addressing shortcomings, a UN report released on Wednesday said.
The document expressed concern over the still-high level of civilian casualties, arbitrary arrests and prolonged detentions, poor conditions at detention facilities, violence against women and girls, widespread poverty and high unemployment.
"This report highlights a number of shortcomings, some of which are of serious concern and need to be urgently addressed by the Iraqi authorities," said Martin Kobler, the United Nations special envoy to Iraq, in a statement accompanying the report.
"There is no democracy without respect for human rights."
The report noted Iraq had made some progress in improving human rights by finally establishing an independent human rights commission, and deciding to implement UN recommendations on addressing human rights problems.
The UN statement said, however, that "the impact of these measures on the overall human rights situation remained limited."
The report noted that the "human rights situation in Iraq remains fragile. While the government has indicated its willingness and commitment to enhancing the respect and protection of the rights of all Iraq's people, serious problems remain that threaten the gains made in the past few years."
It said the UN mission in Iraq had "serious concerns about the rule of law and respect for due process and fair trial standards," and added that "women and children continue to be vulnerable to violence and abuse, not only from terrorism, but also from domestic violence."
The report concluded: "Crucially, the government of Iraq needs to cultivate an environment where the rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of information and freedom of expression are protected and respected, not only by its own institutions and organs, but by the people of Iraq."
The UN listed 35 recommendations to strengthen human rights in the country, ranging from ensuring independent inspection of jails to abolishing legal protection for honour killings, as well as tightening laws promoting equality.