20 Sep 2016

Heartland Alliance - Update from the Upholding and Expanding Access to Justice Project

On August 24, 2016, Heartland Alliance International (HAI) organized and conducted a workshop at the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council’s Judicial Development Institute (JDI) in Baghdad, focusing on the role of public prosecutors in monitoring detainees’ procedural rights during arrest, investigation, and trial. Attended by the Deputy of Chief Public Prosecutors in Iraq and targeted at prosecutors from Central and Southern Iraq, the workshop was carried out as part of HAI’s US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor -funded project, Upholding and Expanding Access to Justice In Iraq: Improving Protections for Detainees and Survivors of Torture.  The workshop aimed at improving public prosecutors’ ability to monitor detention facilities and guarantee humane treatment of detainees, strengthening mechanisms to protect detainee rights, and communicating the importance of full implementation of Iraqi criminal procedure.

HAI facilitated a lively discussion between workshop participants, focusing on the practical challenges facing prosecutors in fulfilling their responsibilities towards protecting detainees’ procedural rights. Participants identified internal issues within the office of the public prosecutor’s office, such as ineffective communication, cronyism, and lack of integrity and transparency, as well as external obstacles such as disproportionate focus on corruption and terrorism cases, and lack of general public knowledge about the specific role of public prosecutors.

At the conclusion workshop participants expressed support their support for the Iraqi judiciary, international organizations, and diplomatic representatives. The Deputy Chief Prosecutor expressed special thanks to HAI for working to build the capacity of Iraqi public prosecutors who attended the workshop. HAI will continue to follow up with training recipients to monitor training impact on prosecutors’ work.

HAI’s Upholding and Expanding Access to Justice project aims to ensure dignified treatment of detained and incarcerated men, women and children; improve adherence to the United Nations convention Against Torture (UNCAT) and other international standards for treatment of detainees by Iraq and IKR government officials; and strengthen civil society support for survivors of torture and detainees whose due process rights have been violated. To date HAI and its partners have provided legal services to 46 adult men and women and 28 boys and girls in Baghdad and IKR, provided mental health and psychosocial services and support to 47 adult men and women and 16 juvenile survivors of torture in IKR, and trained 50 adult prison staff and 48 juvenile prison staff in crisis management, suicide prevention, and communication skills in Baghdad and the IKR. 

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