The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Iraq

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#equality #freedom #human_rights #iraq #politics #tolerance

Republic of Iraq

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index184th best
LocationAsia, The Middle East
Life Expectancy70.38yrs (2017)2

Iraq is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Iraq does better than average for speed of uptake of HR treaties3. When it comes to most other metrics, Iraq does not do well. It does worse than average in commentary in Human Rights Watch reports4, opposing gender inequality5, supporting press freedom6, its nominal commitment to Human Rights7, freethought8 and in LGBT equality9. It falls into the worst 20 in terms of the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators)10. And finally, it is the worst in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice11. The rich dominate the poor - just 1% of the population control 22% of the country's entire income12. Violence against women is rife, and women have few legal protections to shield them from domestic abuse13. Homosexual relations are illegal13. As a result of the death penalty, "Iraq has long had one of the highest rates of executions in the world"13.

Human Rights Watch finds that ISIS have "carried out the most serious human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity"13 and the UN finds the ISIS responsible for genocide13. Iraq forces have conducted widespread 'collective punishments' against families and communities13.

1. Iraq's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Asia (2020)14,15
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank14,15
1Hong Kong24.3
4S. Korea45.7
44Myanmar (Burma)128.7
Asia Avg99.8
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)14,15
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank14,15
5New Zealand17.5
165Sao Tome & Principe123.8
168Congo, DR126.9
World Avg87.7

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark14. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu14.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe14, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia14.

For more, see:

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)4
Pos.Higher is better
96Bosnia & Herzegovina-6
Asia Avg-5.0
World Avg-1.9

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR


Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)7
Pos.Higher is better
3Costa Rica23
166Papua New Guinea9
Asia Avg12.7
World Avg15.1

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)3
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty3
5Costa Rica4.05
54New Zealand7.56
Asia Avg10.97
World Avg10.02

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)6
Pos.Lower is better6
150Myanmar (Burma)4471
Asia Avg4378
World Avg3249

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.5. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)16
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims16
5New Zealand0.06
98Sierra Leone0.50
Asia Avg0.79
World Avg0.65

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory17. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends18. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life19. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves20.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery21. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity22. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.23. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi16, Eritrea16, Indonesia24) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery25.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Iraq is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women. Historical and current Islamic beliefs are the cause of this.

Women have few legal protections to shield them from domestic violence. Iraq´s criminal code includes provisions criminalizing physical assault, but lacks any explicit mention of domestic violence. While sexual assault is criminalized, article 398 provides that such charges be dropped if the assailant marries the victim. A 2012 Ministry of Planning study found that at least 36 percent of married women reported experiencing some form of psychological abuse from their husbands, 23 percent reported verbal abuse, 6 percent reported physical violence, and 9 percent reported sexual violence.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13


3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)5
Pos.Lower is better5
122Sao Tome & Principe0.52
Asia Avg0.36
World Avg0.36

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases (2022)10
Pos.Lower is better
2New Zealand34.427
Asia Avg94.24
World Avg83.93

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
173Marshall Islands1979
Asia Avg1907
World Avg1930

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)11
Pos.Lower is better
Asia Avg48.2
World Avg36.8

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews28,29,30,31. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East32, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews33,34. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"35. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males36.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

There is no provision for same-sex marriage in Iraq, and, "article 394 makes it illegal to engage in extra-marital sexual relations"13, therefore homosexual relations are illegal.

LGBT Equality (2017)9
Pos.Higher is better
Asia Avg-02.1
World Avg12.6

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence37. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws38. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries37. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought (2021)8
Pos.Lower is better8
4Sao Tome & Principe1.3
Asia Avg3.7
World Avg3.0

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights39. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish40. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era41 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted42. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief43. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands8,44 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia8,45.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed46. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief40, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion47 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"48 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

5. The War Against ISIL / ISIS / Islamic State


Multinational military operations in Iraq against the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) intensified over 2017. [...] Fighting displaced at least 3.2 million Iraqis, over 1 million of them to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). ISIS used civilians as human shields, carried out chemical attacks and targeted fleeing civilians, before being defeated in most of Iraq. In their battle against ISIS, Iraqi forces summarily executed, tortured, and forcibly disappeared hundreds of ISIS suspects. Communities in former ISIS-controlled territory took actions of collective punishment against families of suspected ISIS members, displacing them and destroying their property with the complicity of government forces.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13

Complications from the fighting were used as an excuse to punish Kurdish populations13.

Human Rights Watch stated in 2017 that ISIS forces have "carried out the most serious human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity"13 and the United Nations finds that ISIS are responsible for genocide13.

Unfortunately, local communities and government officials and security forces have used 'collective punishments' against families and communities that are seen as supporting ISIS, including physical attacks, murders, and widespread forced displacements13. This can only entrench and lengthen divisive conflict: the correct approach is to detain ISIS members, not entire families. Witnesses and proper judicial methods are not being followed for those accused of ISIS membership13, resulting in the high chance of abuse of the system for purposes of punishing anyone who is disliked, such as minorities and dissenters from government policy (and religion).

The battle against ISIS has afforded Iraqi government and KRG forces the latitude to carry out serious abuses under the guise of fighting terror. For example, during the operations to retake Mosul, Iraqi forces tortured and executed those captured in and around the battlefield with complete impunity, sometimes even after posting photos and videos of the abuses on social media sites. [...]

Iraqi and US-led coalition forces bombarded civilian objects including homes and hospitals in ISIS-held areas. They have fired inherently imprecise groundfired munitions, including mortars, grad rockets and Improvised Rocket-Assisted Munitions (IRAM), into densely populated civilian areas. In addition, aircraft have dropped explosive weapons with wide-area effects on these areas. By the coalition´s own admission, its aircraft have unintentionally killed at least 624 civilians.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13

6. Freedom of Belief and Religion


When it comes to religious freedom and persecution, sociologists Grim & Finke place Iraq into the worst category, along with just 13 other countries. In this category, severe restrictions on religious freedom and freedom of belief stem simultaneously from top-down pressure from government and institutionalized religion, and from bottom-up grassroots movements that often go even further than the government in harassing those who do not believe the right things (2011)49.