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RIGHTS SUPPLEMENT (News,11-18/3/01)

RIGHTS SUPPLEMENT (News,11-18/3/01)

[A series of articles put out by Arabic News giving excerpts from the UN government reports on the 
human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq]

*  Saudi Arabia human rights record
Arabic News, 10th March

A report by the US government on human rights describe the current various conditions in Saudi 
Arabia. Here are some excerpts from the report.

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy without elected representative institutions or political parties.

A 1992 royal decree reserves for the King exclusive power to name the Crown Prince.

The Government has declared the Islamic holy book the Koran, and the Sunna (tradition) of the 
Prophet Muhammad, to be the country¹s Constitution. The Government bases its legitimacy on 
governance according to the precepts of a rigorously conservative form of Islam.

The Government prohibits the establishment of political parties and suppresses opposition views.

In 1992 King Fahd appointed a Consultative Council, or Majlis Ash-Shura, and similar provincial 
assemblies. The Majlis, a strictly advisory body, began holding sessions in 1993 and was expanded 
in 1997.

The judiciary is generally independent but is subject to influence by the executive branch and 
members of the royal family.

The Government maintains general control of the security forces. However, members of the security 
forces committed human rights abuses.

The Government¹s human rights record remained generally poor in a number of areas; however, its 
record showed limited improvement in some areas. Citizens have neither the right nor the legal 
means to change their government.

Security forces continued to abuse detainees and prisoners, arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, 
and facilitate incommunicado detention; in addition there were allegations that security forces 
committed torture. Prolonged detention without charge is a problem. Security forces committed such 
abuses, in contradiction to the law, but with the acquiescence of the Government.

Mutawwa¹in (religious police, who constitute the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice) 
continued to intimidate, abuse, and detain citizens and foreigners.

The Government infringes on citizens¹ privacy rights. The Government prohibits or restricts freedom 
of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. However, during the year the 
Government tolerated a wider range of debate and criticism in the press concerning domestic issues.

Other continuing problems included discrimination and violence against women, discrimination 
against ethnic and religious minorities, and strict limitations on worker rights. The Government 
views its interpretation of Islamic law as its sole source of guidance on human rights and 
disagrees with internationally accepted definitions of human rights.

However, during the year, the Government initiated limited measures to participate in international 
human rights mechanisms. For example, it invited to the country the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the 
Independence of Judges and Lawyers and acceded to (with reservations) the U.N. Convention on the 
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances

There were credible reports that the authorities abused detainees, both citizens and foreigners. 
Ministry of Interior officials are responsible for most incidents of abuse, including beatings and 
sleep deprivation. In addition, there were allegations of torture. Although the Government has 
ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment, it has refused to recognize the authority of the Committee Against Torture to 
investigate alleged abuses.

The Government¹s general refusal to grant members of diplomatic missions access to the Ministry of 
Interior detention facilities, or allow members of international human rights groups into the 
country, hinders efforts to confirm or discount reports of abuses.

The Government punishes criminals according to its interpretation of Shari¹a (Islamic law). 
Punishments include flogging, amputation, and execution by beheading, stoning, or firing squad. The 
authorities acknowledged 120 executions during the year, an increase from 100 in 1999. Executions 
included 62 persons convicted of murder, 21 convicted of narcotics-related offenses, 22 convicted 
of rape, and 10 convicted of armed robbery. The executions also included two women for murder and 
three for drug trafficking. The men were executed by beheading and the women were executed by 
firing squad.

In accordance with Shari¹a, the authorities may punish repeated thievery by amputation of the right 
hand. There were 27 reports of amputations, including 7 reports of multiple amputations (right 
hand, left leg) for the crime of highway robbery during the year. Persons convicted of less serious 
offenses, such as alcohol-related offenses or being alone in the company of an unrelated person of 
the opposite sex, sometimes were punished by flogging with a cane.

Amnesty International reported in July that six men were executed on charges of deviant sexual 
behavior, some of which were related to their sexual orientation.

During the year, a court ordered that the eye of an Egyptian man be removed as punishment for an 
attack 6 years ago in which he was convicted of throwing acid on another Egyptian man. The victim, 
who lost his eye in the attack and suffered other disfigurement, had urged the court to implement 
Al-Qisas, the Shari¹a provision stipulating that the punishment be commensurate with the crime. 
Press accounts stated that the convicted man¹s eye was removed at a hospital in August.

Boards of Investigation and Public Prosecution, organized on a regional basis, were established by 
King Fahd in 1993. The members of these boards have the right to inspect prisons, review prisoners¹ 
files, and hear their complaints.

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest; however, some officers make arrests and detain persons without 
following explicit legal guidelines. There are few procedures to safeguard against abuse, although 
the Government claims that it punishes individual officers who violate regulations. There have been 
few publicized cases of citizens successfully obtaining judicial redress for abuse of the 
Government¹s power of arrest and detention.

The Mutawwa¹in have the authority to detain persons for no more than 24 hours for violations of the 
strict standards of proper dress and behavior. However, they sometimes exceeded this limit before 
delivering detainees to the police

Since beginning the investigation of the 1996 bombing of a U.S. military facility in Saudi Arabia, 
authorities have detained, interrogated, and confiscated the passports of a number of Shi¹a Muslims 
suspected of fundamentalist tendencies or Iranian sympathies. The Government reportedly still holds 
in jail an unknown number of Shi¹a arrested in the aftermath of the bombing. Government security 
forces reportedly arrest Shi¹a on the smallest suspicion, hold them in custody for lengthy periods, 
and then release them without explanation.

The Government did not use forced exile, and there were no reports that it revoked citizenship for 
political purposes during the year.However, it previously has revoked the citizenship of opponents 
of the Government who reside outside the country.

The independence of the judiciary is prescribed by law and usually is respected in practice; 
however, judges occasionally accede to the influence of the executive branch, particularly members 
of the royal family and their associates, who are not required to appear before the courts. 
Moreover, the Ministry of Justice exercises judicial, financial, and administrative control of the 

The Council of Senior Religious Scholars is an autonomous body of 20 senior religious jurists, 
including the Minister of Justice. It establishes the legal principles to guide lower-court judges 
in deciding cases.

The law grants defendants the right to a lawyer and translator; however, defendants usually appear 
without an attorney before a judge, who determines guilt or innocence in accordance with Shari¹a 
standards. The courts generally do not provide foreign defendants with translators. Defense lawyers 
may offer their clients advice before trial or may attend the trial as interpreters for those 
unfamiliar with Arabic. Public defenders are not provided.

A woman¹s testimony does not carry the same weight as that of a man. In a Shari¹a court, the 
testimony of one man equals that of two women.

In the absence of two witnesses, or four witnesses in the case of adultery, confessions before a 
judge almost always are required for criminal conviction‹a situation that repeatedly has led 
prosecuting authorities to coerce confessions from suspects by threats and abuse. Female parties to 
court proceedings such as divorce and family law cases generally must deputize male relatives to 
speak on their behalf.

Laws and regulations state that defendants should be treated equally; however, foreign residents 
sometimes receive harsher penalties than citizens. Under Shari¹a as interpreted and applied in 
Saudi Arabia, crimes against Muslims receive harsher penalties than those against non-Muslims.

In general members of the royal family and other powerful families are not subject to the same rule 
of law as ordinary citizens. For example, judges do not have the power to issue a warrant summoning 
any member of the royal family.

There is insufficient information to determine the number of political prisoners. The Government 
does not provide information on political prisoners or respond to inquiries about them. It does not 
allow access to political prisoners by international humanitarian organizations. Moreover, the 
Government conducts closed trials for persons who may be political prisoners and in other cases has 
detained persons incommunicado for long periods while they are under investigation. Amnesty 
International estimates the number of political prisoners to be between 100 and 200.

The Government infringes on Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence. The sanctity of family life 
and the inviolability of the home are among the most fundamental of Islamic precepts. Royal decrees 
announced in 1992 include provisions calling for the Government to defend the home from unlawful 
intrusions, while laws and regulations prohibit officials from intercepting mail and electronic 
communication except when necessary during criminal investigations. Nonetheless, there are few 
procedural safeguards against government interference with one¹s privacy, family, home, or 

The police generally must demonstrate reasonable cause and obtain permission from the provincial 
governor before searching a private home; however, warrants are not required.The authorities also 
open mail and use informants and wiretaps in internal security and criminal matters. Security 
forces used wiretaps against foreigners suspected of alcohol-related offenses. Informants (know as 
³mukhbir²) and ward bosses (known as ³umdas²) report ³seditious ideas² or antigovernment activity 
in their neighborhoods to the Ministry of the Interior.

Women may not marry noncitizens without government permission; men must obtain approval from the 
Ministry of Interior to marry women from countries outside the six states of the Gulf Cooperation 
Council. In accordance with Shari¹a, women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims; men may marry 
Christians and Jews, as well as Muslims.

Mutawwa¹in enforcement of strict standards of social behavior included the closing of commercial 
establishments during the five daily prayer observances, insisting upon compliance with strict 
norms of public dress, and dispersing gatherings of women in public places. Mutawwa¹in frequently 
reproached citizen and foreign women for failure to observe strict dress codes, and arrested men 
and women found together who were not married or closely related.

Some professors believe that informers monitor comments made in university classrooms.

The Government severely limits freedom of speech and the press. However, the authorities allow the 
press some freedom to criticize governmental bodies and social policies through editorial comments 
and cartoons. The authorities do not permit criticism of Islam or the royal family, and criticism 
of the Government is limited. However, during the year the authorities tolerated increasing 
criticism of governmental bodies and social policies in editorial comments and cartoons. For 
example, some newspapers published criticism of specific cabinet ministries and ministers for their 
handling of a disease outbreak, while another published a column criticizing the Minister of 
Finance for lack of transparency in the Government¹s spending of oil revenues. One newspaper 
published a column in support of allowing women to drive by disputing the arguments of a member of 
the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars who opposes such actions.

Persons whose criticisms align them with an organized political opposition are subject to arrest 
and detention until they confess to a crime or sign a statement promising not to resume such 
criticisms, which is tantamount to a confession. Writer Zuheir Kutbi claims that he has been 
imprisoned six times for his writings. Due to his imprisonment, Kutbi has been deprived of 
employment and his passport, and lives under government surveillance.

A 1982 media policy statement and a 1965 national security law prohibit the dissemination of 
criticism of the Government.

In November the Government approved a wide-ranging new press law that would permit the creation of 
professional journalism societies and permit the publication of foreign newspapers in the Kingdom. 
The new law states that local publications will be subject to censorship only in emergencies and 
pledges to protect free expression of opinion; however, the law obliges authorities to censor 
foreign publications that defame Islam and harm the interests of the state or the ³ethics of the 
people.² It is not yet clear whether the implementation of the new law will change current 
practices regarding freedom of expression.

The Government strictly limits freedom of assembly. It prohibits public demonstrations as a means 
of political expression. Public meetings are segregated by sex. Unless meetings are sponsored by 
diplomatic missions or approved by the appropriate governor, foreign residents who seek to hold 
unsegregated meetings risk arrest and deportation. The authorities monitor any large gathering of 
persons, especially of women.

The Government strictly limits freedom of association. It prohibits the establishment of political 
parties or any type of opposition group. By its power to license associations, the Government 
ensures that groups conform to public policy.

Freedom of religion does not exist. Islam is the official religion and all citizens must be 
Muslims. The Government prohibits the public practice of other religions. Private worship by 
non-Muslims generally is permitted. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic monarchy and the Government has 
declared the Islamic holy book, the Koran, and the Sunna (tradition) of the Prophet Muhammad, to be 
the country¹s Constitution.

Islamic practice generally is limited to that of the Wahabi order, which adheres to the Hanbali 
school of the Sunni branch of Islam as interpreted by Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahab, an 18th century 
Arabian religious reformer. Practices contrary to this interpretation, such as visits to the tombs 
of renowned Muslims, are discouraged. The practice of other schools of Sunni Islam is discouraged, 
and there is institutionalized discrimination against adherents of the Shiaa branch of Islam. The 
Government supervises almost all mosques in the country and funds their construction, maintenance, 
and operations.

The spreading of Muslim teachings not in conformance with the officially accepted interpretation of 
Islam is prohibited. Writers and other individuals who publicly criticize this interpretation, 
including both those who advocate a stricter interpretation and those who favor a more moderate 
interpretation than the Government¹s, reportedly have been imprisoned and faced other reprisals.

The Shiaa Muslim minority (roughly 900,000 persons) lives mostly in the eastern province, in which 
Shiaa constitute about one-third of the population. Members of the Shiaa minority are the objects 
of officially sanctioned political and economic discrimination. Prior to 1990, the Government 
prohibited Shiaa public processions during the Islamic month of Muharram and restricted other 
processions and congregations to designated areas in the major Shi¹a cities. Since 1990 the 
authorities have permitted the celebration of the Shiaa holiday of Ashura in the eastern province 
city of Qatif, provided that the celebrants do not undertake large, public marches or engage in 
self-flagellation (a traditional Shi¹a practice). The celebrations are monitored heavily by the 
police. No other Ashura celebrations are permitted in the Kingdom, and many Shi¹a travel to Qatif 
or to Bahrain to participate in Ashura celebrations. Early in the year, a Shiaa sheikh was taken 
into custody, and three other sheikhs were arrested for unknown reasons near the border with 
Jordan. Human Rights Watch reported that at least seven additional Shiaa religious leaders 
reportedly remained in detention for violating restrictions on Shi¹a religious practices.

According to Amnesty International, Hashim Al-Sayyid Al-Sada, a Shiaa cleric suspected of political 
or religious dissent, was arrested in his home in April and reportedly has been held incommunicado 
since then

The Government seldom permits private construction of Shiaa mosques. Shiaa have declined government 
offers to build state-supported mosques because the Government would prohibit the incorporation and 
display of Shiaa motifs in any such mosques. The Government actively discourages Shi¹a travel to 
Iran to visit pilgrimage sites, although Shi¹a citizens are permitted to visit holy sites in Iraq.

Magic is widely believed in and sometimes practiced, often in the form of fortune-telling and 
swindles. However, under Shariaa the practice of magic is regarded as the worst form of polytheism, 
an offense for which no repentance is accepted, and which is punishable by death. There are an 
unknown number of detainees held in prison on the charge of ³sorcery,² or the practice of ³black 
magic² or ³witchcraft.² In a few cases, self-proclaimed ³miracle workers² have been executed for 
sorcery involving physical harm or apostasy.

Under Shariaa conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy. Public apostasy is 
a crime punishable by death if the accused does not recant.

The Government prohibits public non-Muslim religious activities. Non-Muslim worshippers risk 
arrest, lashing, and deportation for engaging in overt religious activity that attracts official 
attention.During the year, senior officials in the Government publicly reaffirmed the right of 
non-Muslims to engage in private religious worship. In an address to the 56th session of the U.N. 
Committee on Human Rights in April, Prince Turki bin Muhammad bin Saud Al-Kabir, Director of the 
International Organizations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that ³non-Muslims 
enjoy full freedom to engage in their religious observances in private.²

However, in January the Government arrested 16 Filipino Christians during a raid on a prayer 
service. Government officials maintained that the religious service was attended by such a large 
number of persons that it could not be considered private. After 6 weeks of detention, all of the 
detainees were released and deported to the Philippines.

On November 30, religious police broke up a worship service of about 60 Christians. Police seized 
Bibles, musical instruments, and documents relating to other Christian activities.

Proselytizing by non-Muslims is illegal, although there were no reports during the year of arrests 
for proselytizing. Persons wearing religious symbols of any kind in public risk confrontation with 
the Mutawwa¹in. This general prohibition against religious symbols also applies to Muslims. A 
Christian wearing a crucifix or a Muslim wearing a Koranic necklace in public would be admonished.

The Government restricts the travel of Saudi women, who must obtain written permission from their 
closest male relative before the authorities allow them to board domestic public transportation or 
to travel abroad.In 1999 the Ministry of Interior announced that preparations were underway to 
issue identity cards to women, which would have been a step toward allowing women to establish 
independent legal identities from men and to secure greater rights in many areas, including travel. 
However, the Ministry announced in August that the current identification document system for women 
would be maintained for another 3 years and thus identity cards would not be issued. Men may travel 
anywhere within the country or abroad.

Foreigners typically are allowed to reside or work in the country only under the sponsorship of a 
citizen or domestic business. It does not permit foreigners to travel outside the city of their 
employment or change their workplace without their sponsor¹s permission. Sponsors generally retain 
possession of foreign workers¹ passports

The Government seizes the passports of all potential suspects and witnesses in criminal cases and 
suspends the issuance of exit visas to them until the case is tried or otherwise concluded.

Apart from marriage to a Saudi national, there are no provisions for foreign residents to acquire 
citizenship.However, foreigners are granted citizenship in rare cases, generally through the 
advocacy of an influential patron.

The 1992 Basic Law provides that ³the state will grant political asylum if the public interest 
mitigates² in favor of it. The language does not specify clear rules for adjudicating asylum cases. 
In general the authorities regard refugees and displaced persons like other foreign workers: They 
must have sponsors for employment or risk expulsion. Of the 33,000 Iraqi civilians and former 
prisoners of war given refuge in the country at the end of the Gulf War, none has been granted 
permanent asylum.

In June the press reported on the first meeting of a newly established ³Royal Family Council,² 
which is composed of the Crown Prince and representatives of major branches of the extended royal 
family. The Council¹s stated purpose is to consider ³major decisions regarding the family.² Its 
role in government, if any, is not clear.

Typical topics raised in a majlis are complaints about bureaucratic delay or insensitivity, 
requests for personal redress or assistance, and criticism of particular acts of government 
affecting family welfare. Broader ³political² concerns‹social, economic, or foreign policy‹rarely 
are raised. Complaints about royal abuses of power are not entertained.

The Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR), an opposition group, was established in 
1993. The Government acted almost immediately to repress it. In 1994 one of its founding members, 
Mohammed Al-Masari, fled to the United Kingdom, where he sought political asylum and established an 
overseas branch of the CDLR. In 1996 internal divisions within the CDLR led to the creation of the 
rival Islamic Reform Movement (IRM), headed by Sa¹ad Al-Faqih. Al-Masari expressed the CDLR¹s 
³understanding² of two fatal terrorist bombings of U.S. military facilities in 1995 and 1996 and 
sympathy for the perpetrators. The IRM implicitly condoned the two terrorist attacks as well, 
arguing that they were a natural outgrowth of a political system that does not tolerate peaceful 
dissent. Both groups continue to criticize the Government, using computers and facsimile 
transmissions to send newsletters back to Saudi Arabia.

Women play no formal role in government and politics and are actively discouraged from doing so. 
Participation by women in a majlis is restricted, although some women seek redress through female 
members of the royal family.

Two of the 90 members of the Majlis Ash-Shura are Shiaa.

There are no publicly active human rights groups, and the Government has made it clear that none 
critical of government policies would be permitted. Prince Turki bin Muhammad bin Saud Al-Kabir, 
Director of the International Organizations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated 
that the Government welcomed the role of international human rights mechanisms.

There is legal and systemic discrimination based on sex and religion. The law forbids 
discrimination based on race, but not nationality.

The Government does not keep statistics on spousal abuse or other forms of violence against women. 
However, based on the information available regarding physical spousal abuse and violence against 
women, such violence and abuse appear to be common problems. Hospital workers report that many 
women are admitted for treatment of injuries that apparently result from spousal violence. Some 
foreign women have suffered physical abuse from their Saudi husbands. A Saudi man may prevent his 
wife and any child or unmarried adult daughter from obtaining an exit visa to depart the country.

Foreign embassies continued to receive many reports that employers abuse foreign women working as 
domestic servants.

By religious law and social custom, women have the right to own property and are entitled to 
financial support from their husbands or male relatives. However, women have few political or 
social rights and are not treated as equal members of society. There are no active women¹s rights 
groups. Women legally may not drive motor vehicles and are restricted in their use of public 
facilities when men are present. Women must enter city buses by separate rear entrances and sit in 
specially designated sections. Women risk arrest by the Mutawwa¹in for riding in a vehicle driven 
by a male who is not an employee or a close male relative. Women are not admitted to a hospital for 
medical treatment without the consent of a male relative.

In public a woman is expected to wear an abaya (a black garment that covers the entire body) and to 
cover her head and face.

Some government officials and ministries still bar accredited female diplomats in the country from 
official meetings.

In September Crown Prince Abdullah signed the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of 
Discrimination Against Women, with reservations regarding aspects of the Convention that the 
Government considers contrary to Shari¹a law.

The Government provides all children with free education and medical care. Children are not subject 
to the strict social segregation faced by women, although they are segregated by sex in schools, 
beginning at the age of 7.

It is difficult to gauge the prevalence of child abuse, since the Government currently keeps no 
national statistics on such cases. One major hospital has begun a program to detect, report, and 
prevent child abuse. In general Saudi culture greatly prizes children, and initial studies show 
that severe abuse and neglect of children appear to be rare.

Trafficking in children for forced begging persists.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international health experts as 
damaging to both physical and psychological health, is practiced among some foreign workers from 
East Africa and the Nile Valley. It is not always clear whether the procedure occurred in Saudi 
Arabia or the workers¹ home countries. There is no law specifically prohibiting FGM.

In October Riyadh governor Prince Salman Bin Abd Al-Aziz announced that the Government was 
implementing new regulations designed to integrate disabled persons into the mainstream of society; 
the regulations had not been implemented by year¹s end.The law provides hiring quotas for the 
disabled. There is no legislation that mandates public accessibility; however, newer commercial 
buildings often include such access.

Shi¹a citizens are discriminated against in government and employment, especially in national 
security jobs. Several years ago the Government subjected Shi¹a to employment restrictions in the 
oil industry and has not relaxed them. Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, some Shi¹a who are 
suspected of subversion have been subjected periodically to surveillance and limitations on travel 

Since beginning the investigation of the 1996 bombing of a U.S. military installation, authorities 
have detained, interrogated, and confiscated the passports of a number of Shiaa Muslims, including 
Shi¹a returning to the country following their travel to Iran.

Although racial discrimination is illegal, there is substantial societal prejudice based on ethnic 
or national origin. Foreign workers from Africa and Asia are subject to various forms of formal and 
informal discrimination and have the most difficulty in obtaining justice for their grievances. For 
example, pay scales for identical or similar labor or professional services are set by nationality 
such that two similarly qualified and experienced foreign nationals performing the same employment 
duties receive varied compensation based on their nationalities.

The minimum age for employment is 13 years, which may be waived by the Ministry of Labor with the 
consent of a juvenile¹s guardian.

The law does not prohibit specifically trafficking in persons; however, the law prohibits slavery 
and the smuggling of persons into the country.

There were unconfirmed reports that women were trafficked into the country to work as prostitutes.

*  Kuwait human rights report
Arabic News, 14th March

A report by the US government on human rights describe the current various conditions in Kuwait. 
Here are some excerpts from the report.

Kuwait is a constitutional, hereditary amirate ruled by princes (Amirs), drawn from the Al-Sabah 

The Al-Sabahs have governed the country in consultation with prominent commercial families and 
other community leaders for over 200 years.

The 1962 Constitution provides for an elected national assembly and details the powers of the 
Government and the rights of citizens, although it also permits the Amir to suspend any or all of 
its provisions by decree. Although the Amir suspended constitutional provisions from 1976-81 and 
from 1986-92, since the 1992 elections when the National Assembly resumed functioning, he has not 
taken this step.

Only 14.5 percent of citizens (males over the age of 21) have the right to vote.

The Constitution and law provide for a degree of judicial independence; however, the Amir appoints 
all judges, and renewal of most judicial appointments is subject to government approval.

The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in many areas; however, its 
record was poor in some significant areas. Citizens cannot change the head of state. Although under 
the Constitution the National Assembly must approve the Amir¹s choice of Crown Prince (that is, the 
future Amir), this authority is limited; if the National Assembly rejects the Amir¹s nominee, the 
Amir then submits three names from which the assembly must choose the new Crown Prince.

The Crown Prince appoints the members of the Government.However, the elected National Assembly has 
demonstrated significant ability to influence or overturn decisions of the Government and has on 
occasion removed ministers through votes of no confidence or by forcing ministers to resign.

The Government bans formal political parties, and women do not have the right to vote or seek 
election to the National Assembly.

Some police and members of the security forces abuse detainees during interrogation.

The judiciary is subject to government influence, and a pattern of bias against foreign residents 

The Government infringes on citizens¹ privacy rights in some areas. Security forces occasionally 
monitor the activities of individuals and their communications.

Men must obtain government approval to marry foreign-born women.

The Government uses threats to induce informal censorship.

The Government restricts freedom of assembly and association.

Violence and discrimination against women are problems.

The Labor Law does not protect domestic servants regardless of citizenship, and their situation 
worsened during the year.

Unskilled foreign workers suffer from the lack of a minimum wage in the private sector, from 
failure to enforce the Labor Law, and at times physical abuse; some work under conditions that, in 
effect, constitute indentured servitude.

The Government acknowledges that a serious problem exists in the case of the ³bidoon,² Arabs who 
have residency ties to the country‹some going back for generations, some for briefer periods‹but 
who claim to have no documentation of their nationality. There are an estimated 110,000 bidoon in 
the country, down from a pre-Gulf War level of 220,000.

In June the National Assembly passed a law requiring that bidoon register with the Government to 
begin a process in which some could be documented as citizens. Those who failed to register would 
be considered illegal residents. However, only 8,000 bidoon registered by the cutoff date (in 
addition to the 36,000 who registered during a 1965 census). The Government maintains that many 
bidoon are concealing their true nationality. It reports that 12,000 were documented during the 
year as nationals of other states, primarily Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The country suffered under Iraqi occupation from August 1990 to February 1991.

The Government occasionally arrests and detains persons arbitrarily. There also were incidents of 
prolonged detention.
In general police officers must obtain an arrest warrant from state prosecutors or a judge before 
making an arrest, although in misdemeanor cases the arresting officer may issue them. Security 
forces occasionally detain persons at checkpoints in Kuwait City.

Under the Penal Code, a suspect may not be held for more than 4 days without charge. Security 
officers sometimes prevent families from visiting detainees during this confinement. After 4 days, 
prosecutors must either release the suspect or file charges. If charges are filed, prosecutors may 
remand a suspect to detention for an additional 21 days. Prosecutors also may obtain court orders 
for further detention pending trial.

During the 1999 election campaign, five parliamentary candidates were arrested and charged with 
slander against the Government. One of the candidates was sentenced to 6 months in prison; the 
sentence was not carried out and all charges were dropped.

The Government may expel noncitizens (including bidoon, i.e., stateless residents of Kuwait, some 
of whom are native born or long-term residents), if it considers them security risks.

The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial and states that ³judges shall not be 
subject to any authority;² however, the Amir appoints all judges, and the renewal of judicial 
appointments is subject to government approval. Judges who are citizens have lifetime appointments; 
however, the majority of judges are noncitizens. These noncitizen judges work under 1- to 3-year 
renewable contracts, which undermines their independence.

The law forbids marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men and requires men to obtain 
government approval to marry foreign-born women.

The Constitution provides for freedom of the press, printing, and publishing ³in accordance with 
the conditions and manner specified by law,² and, with a few exceptions, citizens are free to 
criticize the Government at public meetings and in the media.

Several laws empower the Government to impose restrictions on freedom of speech and the press. The 
effect of these laws diminished during the year as court cases overruled punitive sentences that 
accompanied earlier convictions.

The Government, through the Ministry of Information, practiced informal censorship by placing 
pressure on individual publishers and editors believed to have ³crossed the line² in attacking 
government policies and discussing issues deemed offensive to Islam, tradition, or the interests of 
the State.

Newspapers are privately owned and free to publish on many social, economic, and political issues 
and frequently criticize government policies and officials, including the Crown Prince/Prime 

The Government ended prepublication censorship in 1992. The Press Law prohibits the publication of 
any direct criticism of the Amir, official government communications with other states, and 
material that serves to ³attack religions² or ³incite people to commit crimes, creates hatred, or 
spreads dissension among the populace.²

Al-Siyassa and Al-Watan were charged with publishing false information in an article about the 
Amir¹s decision regarding salaries for security services personnel, which embarrassed the Amir. The 
managing editor of Al-Siyassa was detained for 1 week, although never formally charged. The Cabinet 
ordered the cancellation of both newspapers¹ licenses and suspension of publication for 2 years. 
After significant public criticism, particularly from the National Assembly, the Government decided 
not to shut down the papers or penalize them further.

The Government owns and controls the radio and television companies. Satellite dishes are widely 
available, and citizens with such devices are free to watch all available programming.

the Ministry announced plans to censor the Internet, the methods of enforcement and technical 
issues are still to be worked out. Internet providers and web sites practiced self-censorship. The 
Ministry has censored political topics as well and does not grant licenses to magazines with a 
political focus.

Public gatherings must receive prior government approval, as must private gatherings of more than 
five persons that result in the issuance of a public statement.

Informal weekly, family-based, social gatherings of men, known as ³diwaniyas² are protected by the 
Constitution. Practically every adult male, including the Amir, members of the Government, and 
members of the National Assembly hosts or attends diwaniyas, at which every possible topic is 
freely discussed. The diwaniya system contributes to the development of political consensus and 
official decisionmaking. Women are not precluded from holding diwaniyas; however, such diwaniyas 
are uncommon. By tradition women are barred from male diwanyas.

All nongovernmental organizations (NGO¹s) must obtain a license from the Ministry of Social Affairs 
and Labor. The Government uses its power to license as a means of political control.

Islam is the state religion; although the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, the 
Government places some limits on this right. The Constitution also provides that the State protect 
the freedom to practice religion in accordance with established customs, ³provided that it does not 
conflict with public policy or morals.² The Constitution states that Shariaa (Islamic law) is ³a 
main source of legislation.²

The procedures for registration and licensing of religious groups are unclear. The Ministry of 
Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has official responsibility for overseeing religious groups. Nevertheless 
in reality officially recognized churches must deal with a variety of government entities, 
including the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (for visas and residence permits for pastors and 
other staff) and the Kuwaiti Municipality (for building permits).

While there reportedly is no official government ³list² of recognized churches, seven Christian 
churches have at least some sort of official recognition that enables them to operate openly. These 
seven churches have open ³files² at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, allowing them to 
bring in the pastors and staff necessary to run their churches. Further by tradition three of the 
country¹s churches are widely recognized as enjoying ³full recognition² by the Government and are 
allowed to operate compounds officially designated as churches:

The procedures for the registration and licensing of religious groups also appear to be connected 
with government restrictions on NGO¹s, religious or otherwise.

Citizens have the right to travel freely within the country and to change their work place as 
desired. Unmarried women 21 years old and over are free to obtain a passport and travel abroad at 
any time. However, married women who apply for passports must obtain their husbands¹ signature on 
the application form. Once she has a passport, a married woman does not need her husband¹s 
permission to travel, but he may prevent her departure from the country by contacting the 
immigration authorities and placing a 24-hour travel ban on her.

Citizens are free to emigrate and to return.

Security forces in Kuwait City occasionally set up checkpoints where they may detain individuals. 
The checkpoints are mainly for immigration purposes and are used to apprehend undocumented aliens.

There is no legislation governing refugees, asylees, or first asylum, and no clear standard 
procedure for processing a person¹s claim to be a refugee.

Citizens cannot change the head of state

Women are disenfranchised and have little opportunity to influence government. A May 1999 Amiri 
decree gave women the right to vote, to seek election to the National Assembly beginning with the 
parliamentary election scheduled for 2003, and to hold cabinet office. In November 1999, the 
Parliament vetoed the Amir¹s May decree on constitutional grounds. Shortly thereafter members of 
the Assembly introduced identical legislation, but it also was defeated. No new legislation has 
been introduced by either the Government or by Assembly members. Women do hold some relatively 
senior nonpolitical positions within some ministries.

The Government continued its practice of preventing the establishment of new local human rights 
groups by not approving their requests for licenses.

The Government permits international human rights organizations to visit the country and to 
establish offices. Several organizations conduct fieldwork and report excellent communication with 
and reasonable cooperation from the Government.

Violence against women is a problem. According to some local experts, domestic abuse of women 
occurs in an estimated 15 percent of all marriages.

In April the Government arrested seven men for allegedly beating a 19-year-old woman for not 
wearing a ³hijab² (head scarf). The Government acted quickly in bringing the seven men to trial, 
criticizing the assault as a vigilante action by extremists.

Some employers physically abuse foreign women working as domestic servants, and there are 
continuing reports of rape of these women by male employers and male coworkers.

The Government is committed to the welfare of children. Both boys and girls receive a free 
education, which extends through the university level, including advanced degrees. The Government 
provides free health care and a variety of other services to all children. Citizen parents also 
receive a monthly government allowance for each child.

There is no institutionalized discrimination against disabled persons in employment, education, or 
in the provision of state services.

Workers have the right to join unions. Nonetheless, the Government restricts the right of freedom 
of association by stipulating that there be only one union per occupational trade, and that unions 
may establish only one federation.

Workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively, subject to certain restrictions. These 
rights have been incorporated in the Labor Law and, according to all reports, have been respected 
in practice.

Some foreign workers are treated like indentured servants.

*  Iraq human rights report
Arabic News, 16th March

A report by the US government on human rights describe the current various conditions in Iraq. Here 
are some excerpts from the report.

Political power in Iraq lies exclusively in a repressive one-party apparatus dominated by Saddam 
Hussein and members of his extended family.

The provisional Constitution of 1968 stipulates that the Arab Ba¹th Socialist Party governs Iraq 
through the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), which exercises both executive and legislative 

President Saddam Hussein, who is also Prime Minister, Chairman of the RCC, and Secretary General of 
the Regional Command of the Ba¹th Party, wields decisive power. Saddam Hussein and his regime 
continued to refer to an October 1995 nondemocratic ³referendum² on his presidency, in which he 
received 99.96 percent of the vote. This ³referendum² included neither secret ballots nor opposing 
candidates, and many credible reports indicated that voters feared possible reprisal for a 
dissenting vote.

Civil uprisings have occurred in recent years, especially in the north and the south. The 
Government has reacted with extreme repression against those who oppose or even question it. The 
judiciary is not independent, and the President may override any court decision.

The security forces play a central role in maintaining the environment of intimidation and fear on 
which government power rests. Security forces committed widespread, serious, and systematic human 
rights abuses.

The economy was damaged by the Iran-Iraq and Gulf Wars, and Iraq has been under U.N. sanctions 
since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Sanctions ban all exports, except oil sales.

The Government¹s human rights record remained extremely poor. Citizens do not have the right to 
change their government. The Government continued to execute summarily perceived political 
opponents and leaders in the Shiaa religious community.

Reports suggest that persons were executed merely because of their association with an opposition 
group or as part of a continuing effort to reduce prison populations.

The Government continued to be responsible for disappearances and to kill and torture persons 
suspected of‹or related to persons suspected of‹economic crimes, military desertion, and a variety 
of other activities. Security forces routinely tortured, beat, raped, and otherwise abused 
detainees. Prison conditions are extremely poor.

The authorities routinely used arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged detention, and 
incommunicado detention, and continued to deny citizens the basic right to due process.

The judiciary is not independent. The Government continued to infringe on citizens¹ privacy rights.

The Government restricts severely freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and 
movement. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights and the U.N. General Assembly passed resolutions in 
April and November respectively criticizing the Government¹s suppression of these freedoms.

Human rights abuses remain difficult to document because of the Government¹s efforts to conceal the 
facts, including its prohibition on the establishment of independent human rights organizations, 
its persistent refusal to grant visits to human rights monitors, and its continued restrictions 
designed to prevent dissent.

The Government committed numerous political and other extrajudicial killings. The Government has a 
long record of executing perceived opponents. The U.N. Special Rapporteur, the international media, 
and other groups all have reported a heightened number of summary executions in Iraq since 1997, 
assertions that are supported in detail by several sources in Iraq. The Special Rapporteur has 
stated that ³the country is run through extrajudicial measures.²

The list of offenses requiring a mandatory death penalty has grown substantially in recent years 
and now includes anything that could be characterized as ³sabotaging the national economy,² 
including forgery, as well as smuggling cars, spare parts, material, heavy equipment, and machinery.

The Special Rapporteur also noted that membership in certain political parties is punishable by 
death, that there is a pervasive fear of death for any act or expression of dissent, and that there 
are recurrent reports of the use of the death penalty for such offenses as ³insulting² the 
President or the Baath Party.²The mere suggestion that someone is not a supporter of the President 
carries the prospect of the death penalty,² the Special Rapporteur stated.

Government killings occurred with total impunity and without due process.

The regime periodically executed large numbers of political detainees en masse. During the year, 
the Special Rapporteur continued to receive reports referring to a ³prison cleansing² execution 
campaign taking place in Abu Ghurayb, Radwaniyah, and other prisons.

Opposition groups, including the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the 
Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and others with a network inside 
the country provided detailed accounts of summary executions, including the names of hundreds of 
persons killed. These executions included high-ranking civilian, military, and tribal leaders.

The Government reportedly does not investigate political or extrajudicial killings, and no 
investigations were made into the hundreds of killings committed by security forces in 1999, or in 
killings from previous years.
As in previous years, the regime continued to deny the widespread killings of Kurds in the north of 
the country during the ³Anfal² Campaign of 1988. Both the Special Rapporteur and HRW have concluded 
that the Government¹s policies against the Kurds raise issues of crimes against humanity and 
violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The Special Rapporteur continued to receive reports of widespread disappearances. The whereabouts 
of journalist and Baghdad professor, Hashem Hasan, who was arrested as he attempted to leave the 
country in September 1999, remained unknown at year¹s end.

The Constitution prohibits torture; however, the security services routinely and systematically 
tortured detainees. According to former prisoners, torture techniques included branding, electric 
shocks administered to the genitals and other areas, beating, pulling out of fingernails, burning 
with hot irons and blowtorches, suspension from rotating ceiling fans, dripping acid on the skin, 
rape, breaking of limbs, denial of food and water, extended solitary confinement in dark and 
extremely small compartments, and threats to rape or otherwise harm family members and relatives.

During the year, authorities reportedly introduced tongue amputation as a punishment for persons 
who criticize Saddam Hussein or his family. In September government authorities reportedly 
amputated the tongue of a person who allegedly criticized Saddam Hussein. Following the amputation, 
authorities reportedly drove him around in an open truck and broadcast his alleged crime and 

Security forces also reportedly assault sexually both regime officials and opposition members in 
order to blackmail them into compliance. Former Mukhabarat member Khalid Al-Janabi reported that a 
Mukhabarat unit, the Technical Operations Directorate, uses rape and sexual assault in a systematic 
and institutionalized manner for political purposes. The unit reportedly also videotaped the rape 
of female relatives of suspected oppositionists and used the videotapes for blackmail purposes and 
to ensure their future cooperation.

Prison conditions are extremely poor. There reportedly are numerous official, semiofficial, and 
private prisons throughout the country. Overcrowding is a serious problem. In May 1998, Labor and 
Social Affairs Minister Abdul Hamid Aziz Sabah stated in an interview that ³the prisons are filled 
to five times their capacity and the situation is serious.² Sabah was dismissed from his post after 
the interview, and the government-owned daily newspaper Babel reiterated the Government¹s 
longstanding claim that it holds virtually no prisoners.

During the year, the Special Rapporteur reported receiving information about two detention 
facilities in which prisoners are locked in metal boxes the size of coffins that reportedly are 
opened for only 30 minutes each day. There also were reports that in Sijn al-Tarbout prison and 
Quortiyya prison, prisoners are fed only liquids. A multistory underground detention and torture 
center reportedly was built under the general military hospital building close to the Al-Rashid 
military camp on the outskirts of Baghdad. The Center for Human Rights of the Iraqi Communist Party 
stated that the complex includes torture and execution chambers. A section reportedly is reserved 
for prisoners in a ³frozen² state‹that is, those whose status, fate, or whereabouts are not 

Hundreds of Fayli (Shiaa) Kurds and other citizens of Iranian origin, who had disappeared in the 
early 1980¹s during the Iran-Iraq war, reportedly are being held incommunicado at the Abu Ghurayb 
prison. According to a report received by the Special Rapporteur in 1998, such persons have been 
detained without charge for close to 2 decades in extremely harsh conditions.

The Government does not permit visits by human rights monitors.

The Constitution and the Legal Code explicitly prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention; however, 
the authorities routinely engaged in these practices. The Special Rapporteur continued to receive 
reports of widespread arbitrary arrest and detention, often for long periods of time, without 
access to a lawyer or the courts.

The Government reportedly targets the Shi¹a Muslim community for arbitrary arrest and other abuses. 
Security forces arrested hundreds of persons in al-Najaf, Karbala, and the Shiaa section of Baghdad 
following an anonymous distribution of antigovernment leaflets.

Although no statistics are available, observers estimate the number of political detainees to be in 
the tens of thousands, some of whom have been held for decades.

The Government announced in June 1999 a general amnesty for Iraqis who had left the country 
illegally or were exiled officially for a specified period of time but failed to return after the 
period of exile expired. No citizens are known to have returned to the country based upon this 
amnesty. An estimated 1 to 2 million self-exiled citizens reportedly remain fearful of returning to 
the country.

The judiciary is not independent, and there is no check on the President¹s power to override any 
court decision. In 1999 the Special Rapporteur and international human rights groups observed that 
the repressive nature of the political and legal systems precludes application of the rule of law. 
Numerous laws lend themselves to continued repression, and the Government uses extrajudicial 
methods to extract confessions or coerce cooperation with the regime.

The Government shields certain groups from prosecution for alleged crimes. For example, a 1990 
decree grants immunity to men who commit ³honor crimes,² a violent assault with intent to commit 
murder against a female by a relative for her perceived immodest behavior or alleged sexual 
misconduct. A 1992 decree grants immunity from prosecution to members of the Ba¹th Party and 
security forces who kill anyone while in pursuit of army deserters. Unconfirmed but widespread 
reports indicate that this decree has been applied to prevent trials or punishment of government 

The Government frequently infringed on citizens¹ constitutional right to privacy, particularly in 
cases allegedly involving national security. The law defines security offenses so broadly that 
authorities effectively are exempt from the legal requirement to obtain search warrants, and 
searches without warrants are commonplace. The regime routinely ignored constitutional provisions 
designed to protect the confidentiality of mail, telegraphic correspondence, and telephone 

The security services and the Ba¹th Party maintain pervasive networks of informers to deter 
dissident activity and instill fear in the public.

Following the February 1999 killing of Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq Al-Sadr and his sons, there were 
widespread reports of military assaults on protesters in areas of Baghdad heavily populated by 
Shiaa, and in cities with a Shi¹a majority such as Karbala, Nasiriyah, Najaf, and Basra, in which 
hundreds of persons were killed. While a funeral for Al-Sadr was prohibited, spontaneous gatherings 
of mourners took place in the days after his death.For example, in the Shi¹a district of Al-Thawra 
in Baghdad, a crowd of tens of thousands was attacked by government security forces using automatic 
weapons and armored vehicles. The attack resulted in the deaths of approximately 25 mourners 
(although estimates range up to 400) including, according to one report, the imam of the Al-Thawra 
mosque. According to Shi¹a sources, martial law was declared throughout the region in reaction to 
the Al-Sadr killing.

Landmines in the north, mostly planted by the Government before 1991, continued to kill and maim 
civilians. Many of the mines were laid during the Iran-Iraq War; however, the army failed to clear 
them before it abandoned the area. The mines appear to have been planted haphazardly in civilian 
areas. Landmines also are a problem along the Iraq-Iran border throughout the central and southern 
areas in the country.

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press ³in compliance with the 
revolutionary, national, and progressive trend;² however, in practice the Government does not 
permit freedom of speech or of the press, and does not tolerate political dissent in areas under 
its control.

In November the U.N. General Assembly criticized the Government¹s ³suppression of freedom of 
thought, expression, information, association, and assembly.²

The Government does not respect academic freedom and exercises strict control over academic 
publications. University staff are hired and fired depending on their support for the Government.

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly; however, the Government restricts this right in 

The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, the Government restricts this right 
in practice. The Government controls the establishment of political parties, regulates their 
internal affairs, and monitors their activities.

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the Government severely restricts this 
right in practice. Islam is the official state religion.
The Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs monitors places of worship, appoints the clergy, 
approves the building and repair of all places of worship, and approves the publication of all 
religious literature.

There are religious qualifications for government office; candidates for the National Assembly, for 
example, ³must believe in God²

Although Shi¹a Arabs are the largest religious group, Sunni Arabs traditionally have dominated 
economic and political life. Sunni Arabs are at a distinct advantage in all areas of secular life, 
including civil, political, military, and economic. Shi¹a and Sunni Arabs are not distinct 
ethnically. Shi¹a Arabs have supported an independent country alongside Sunni Arabs since the 1920 
Revolt, many joined the Ba¹th Party, and Shi¹a formed the core of the army in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq 

The Government has for decades conducted a brutal campaign of murder, summary execution, and 
protracted arbitrary arrest against the religious leaders and followers of the majority Shiaa 
Muslim population. Despite nominal legal protection of religious equality, the regime has repressed 
severely the Shi¹a clergy and those who follow the Shi¹a faith.

Forces from the Mukhabarat, General Security (Amn Al-Amm), the Military Bureau, Saddam¹s Commandos 
(Fedayeen Saddam), and the Ba¹th Party have killed senior Shi¹a clerics, desecrated Shi¹a mosques 
and holy sites (particularly in the aftermath of the 1991 civil uprising), arrested tens of 
thousands of Shi¹a, interfered with Shi¹a religious education, and prevented Shi¹a adherents from 
performing their religious rites. Security agents reportedly are stationed at all the major Shi¹a 
mosques and shrines and search, harass, and arbitrarily arrest worshipers.

The Special Rapporteur and others reported that the Government has engaged in various abuses 
against the country¹s 350,000 Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, especially in terms of forced 
movements from northern areas and repression of political rights. Most Assyrians live in the 
northern governates, and the Government often has accused them of collaborating with Iraqi Kurds.

The Government imposes some repressive measures on Yazidis. For example, 33 members of the Yazidi 
community of Mosul, arrested in July 1996, still are unaccounted for.

The Government requires citizens to obtain specific government authorization and expensive exit 
visas for foreign travel.Citizens may not make more than two trips abroad annually. Before 
traveling abroad, citizens are required to post collateral, which is refundable only upon their 
return.There are restrictions on the amount of currency that may be taken out of the country. Women 
are not permitted to travel outside the country alone; male relatives must escort them. Prior to 
December 1999, every student who wished to travel abroad was required to provide a guarantor who 
would be liable if the student failed to return. In December 1999, authorities banned all travel 
for students (including those in grade school), cancelled spring and summer holidays, and enrolled 
students in compulsory military training and weapons-use courses.

In what appeared to be an effort to lure citizens living abroad back to the country, government 
radio announced in June 1999 an amnesty for teachers who left the country illegally after the Gulf 
War. Shortly thereafter the Revolutionary Command Council decreed a general amnesty for all 
citizens who either had left the country illegally or who had failed to return after the period of 
exile had expired. The decree stated that ³charges of illegal departure, forging official documents 
towards this purpose, and disrupting public duties that were pressed before the issuance of this 
decree shall be dropped effective immediately.² In October 1999, Justice Minster Shabib Al-Maliki 
announced that authorities may seize assets belonging to Iraqis living outside the country who did 
not return in response to the amnesty decree. A special ministerial committee was formed to track 
and monitor Iraqis inside the country who received money from relatives living abroad.

A November 1999 law placed additional penalties on citizens who attempt to leave the country 
illegally. Under the law, a prison term of up to 10 years and ³confiscation of movable and 
immovable property² is to be imposed on anyone who attempts to leave illegally.

The Government restricts foreign travel by journalists, authors, university professors, doctors, 
scientists, and all employees of the Ministry of Information. Security authorities interrogate all 
media employees, journalists, and writers upon their return from foreign travel. In December 1999, 
Captain Ammar Yasir Mahyush and retired Major Jasim Muhsin Ala reportedly were executed for their 
attempt to flee the country in February 1999.

The Government does not provide first asylum or respect the rights of refugees.

Full political participation at the national level is restricted to members of the Arab Ba¹th 
Socialist Party, who are estimated to constitute about 8 percent of the population.

Opposition political organizations are illegal and severely suppressed. Membership in certain 
political parties is punishable by death.

In 1991 the RCC adopted a law that theoretically authorized the creation of political parties other 
than the Ba¹th Party. However, in practice the law is used to prohibit parties that do not support 
the President and the Government.

Women and minorities are underrepresented in government and politics. The law provides for the 
election of women and minorities to the National Assembly; however, they have only token 

In the north of the country, all central government functions have been performed by local 
administrators, mainly Kurds, since the Government withdrew its military forces and civilian 
administrative personnel from the area after the 1991 uprising. A regional parliament and local 
government administrators were elected in 1992. This parliament last met in May 1995. The two major 
Kurdish parties in de facto control of northern Iraq.

The Government does not permit the establishment of independent human rights organizations. 
Citizens have established several human rights groups abroad and in northern areas not under 
government control. Monitors from most foreign and international human rights groups are not 
allowed in the country.

Domestic violence against women occurs but little is known about its extent.

In October security forces reportedly beheaded a number of women suspected of prostitution and some 
men suspected of facilitating or covering up such activities.

The Government states that it is committed to equality for women, who make up about 20 percent of 
the work force. It has enacted laws to protect women from exploitation in the workplace and from 
sexual harassment; to permit women to join the regular army, Popular Army, and police forces; and 
to equalize women¹s rights in divorce, land ownership, taxation, and suffrage.

The Government claims that it has enacted laws to make education for girls compulsory.

No information is available on the Government¹s policy towards the disabled.

Non-Arabs are denied equal access to employment, education, and physical security. Non-Arabs are 
not permitted to sell their homes except to Arabs, nor to register or inherit property. The 
Government continued to relocate forcibly the non-Arab population, including Kurds, Turkomans, and 
Assyrians living in Kirkuk, Sinjar, and other districts.

Trade unions independent of government control do not exist.

The right to bargain collectively is not recognized.

Compulsory labor theoretically is prohibited by law; however, the Penal Code mandates prison 
sentences, including compulsory labor, for civil servants and employees of state enterprises 
accused of breaches of labor ³discipline,² including resigning from a job. (end of excerpts).

For completeness, it should be noted that Iraq is in a state similar internally to a civil war with 
the government not having access to the southern and northern parts of the country where it faces 
armed and political opposition. Externally, the country faces incursions from Turkey, and does not 
have control of its airspace where the US and UK control a portion of it and commit military 
attacks against facilities and areas of the country. The country is under a strict UN sanctions 
regime that has caused the country enormous suffering at the social, economic, health and political 
level. It is clear that Iraq lives under exceptional circumstance and under an authoritarian 
regime. What is not made clear from the report and is needed for full understanding of some the 
problem and the solutions is the USA, the author of the human rights report, can be held in equal 
guilt for bringing about much of the current conditions in Iraq (active armed opposition, 
destruction of the middle class, creating a state of paranoia for the government to keep its 
methods etc.). The USA by its policy has done and continues to do extreme harm to Iraq and its 
people, and provides a highly suspect policy that extends this harm instead of adopting positive 
policies that truly encourages gradual internal and external reform.
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