Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Iraq violence kills 2500 March/April

ACTS of violence have killed nearly 2500 people and forced more than 85,000 to flee their homes in Iraq, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq said today in a March-April report on the human rights situation.

The fatality count was comprised by death certificates issued by the Baghdad morgue, the report said.

"The Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad issued 1294 death certificates in March and 1155 in April", the majority of which had been deaths caused by gunshot wounds, it said. "As a result of the pervasive violence, Iraqis continue to leave their areas of residence, either voluntarily or as a result of violence or threats by insurgents, militias and other armed groups," it said.

Citing the International Organisation of Migration, the report stated 14,302 families had been displaced since the February 22 destruction of a Shiite shrine in Samarra that precipitated a rash of sectarian killing.

The report further noted the destinations of the displaced families break along sectarian lines, with Sunnis from the south heading to Anbar, Salaheddin and Diyala provinces, and Shiites heading from Baghdad to the southern provinces.

The report expressed dismay over the legal and judicial system in the country, noting the security situation has diminished the power of the judiciary.

"Judicial authorities would not appear always able to exercise their power independently or effectively and enforce Iraqi laws in their relation with police forces and militias," said the report.

The report also noted the many cases of murder, torture and abuse were investigated inadequately or not at all, adding that "such a situation may encourage further acts of violence and crime".

"The number of detainees held in the country continues to remain high," said the report, noting that multinational forces hold 15,387 detainees while the justice ministry has 7727. The Interior Ministry has another 5077, with Defence holding 333, the report said. The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has 176 minors in detention, it said.

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