Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1991

Political power in Iraq is concentrated in a repressive
one-party apparatus under the domination of Saddam Hussein.
The provisional Constitution of 1968 stipulates that the Arab
Ba'ath Socialist Party (ABSP) governs Iraq, with executive and
legislative authority exercised by the Revolutionary Command
Council (RCC) . Saddam Hussein wields decisive power as
President of the Republic, Chairman of the RCC, and Secretary
General of the Regional Command of the ABSP.
The Government's security apparatus, including militias
attached to the President, the ABSP, and the Interior Ministry,
have been responsible for widespread and systematic rights
abuses; they continue to play a central role in maintaining the
intimidation and fear on which government power rests.
The Government exerts decisive control over Iraq's oil-based
economy and owns all the major industries. Owing to severe
economic dislocation in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War,
unemployment and inflation rose dramatically. Iraq's economic
problems were compounded by the Government's failure to comply
with U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 which resulted in the
continuation of U.N. -mandated economic sanctions against Iraq.
Sanctions prohibited all exports (including petroleum) and
imports other than food, medicine, and essential humanitarian
The magnitude of Iraqi human rights violations in 1991 was
shocking, even by the previous standards of the Saddam Hussein
regime. Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait early in 1991 carried
out mass arrests and abductions, rape, torture, and execution
of hundreds of Kuwaiti citizens. They were also responsible
for wanton destruction of Kuwait's urban infrastructure,
systematic looting, the intentional discharge of a massive
volume of crude oil into the Gulf, and demolition of more than
700 oil wells, as well as missile attacks against population
centers in Israel and Saudi Arabia.
In brutally repressing a major domestic popular uprising in
March and April, Iraqi forces resorted to sustained
indiscriminate bombardment of population centers, resulting in
casualties estimated in the tens of thousands. Many more
perished in mass executions and from hardships encountered
during a mass migration of over 1 million people.
Human rights in virtually all categories continue to be
systematically violated by the Iraqi regime. Political killing
and torture continue, denial of due process, arbitrary
detentions, and disappearances remain widespread, freedoms of
speech and press and of assembly and association are
nonexistent, and Iraqis do not have the right to change their
government. The reader is referred to the report on Kuwait for
details of human rights abuses committed by Iraqi forces in
that country in the first 2 months of 1991.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
The Iraqi regime has a well-established record of executing
perceived opponents both inside and outside the country.
During 1991 summary execution was a primary tactic of Iraqi
military and security services in suppressing the popular
uprising and, subsequently, in punishing citizens thought to
have taken part in it. Prisoners in southern detention camps
during the rebellion subsequently reported that a number of
prisoners were executed by machinegun fire each day.
Widespread public execution of civilians, including women and
children, after Iraqi forces regained control was reported in a
number of southern cities. Such incidents appear to have been
at least as widespread during fighting in the north.
Executions are reported to have continued since suppression of
the uprising. There were credible reports that a number of
Iraqis were arrested and executed upon returning to their homes
in northern and southern Iraq following an amnesty offer
extended to Kurds in April and broadened to include all
citizens in early May.
In early October, a Western journalist in Sulaymaniyah
witnessed the suinmary execution of at least 60 unarmed Iraqi
soldiers by unidentified Kurdish elements during violent
clashes in the area between Kurdish guerrilla fighters and the
Iraqi military. The Kurdish leadership immediately denounced
the killings and ordered an investigation. A Kurdish guerrilla
commander was tentatively identified as the main perpetrator,
but final results of the investigation had not been announced
as of the end of the year.
In past years, Iraqi opposition figures abroad have also been
targets of government assassination attempts.
      b. Disappearance
As in previous years, there were credible reports from numerous
sources, including the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances, that large numbers of persons
"disappeared" while in the custody of Iraqi authorities.
The total number of suspected government opponents who were
arrested and who disappeared during and immediately after the
March/April uprising is estimated in the thousands. Opposition
sources report that several hundred Shi ' a scholars and students
of religion were arrested at that time and remain unaccounted
for. In the north, many Kurds arrested as suspected dissidents
or detained for use as "human shield" hostages during the
uprising also disappeared. In addition, the Government has
failed either to return or account for more than 2,000 Kuwaiti
citizens transported to Iraq by occupation forces.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Despite a constitutional prohibition against torture, reports
of torture against suspected opponents of the regime,
particularly alleged supporters of the popular uprising, were
extremely numerous in 1991. Insurgents in the south reported
liberating a number of long-term prisoners, as well as some
Kuwaiti detainees, who showed the effects of extreme physical
torture and privation. There were reports of systematic
torture of prisoners in northern detention centers as well.
Techniques of physical torture—including burning, electric
shocks, beatings (to body, feet, and sensitive areas), breaking
of limbs, and denial of food and water—are said to be
routinely practiced by the Iraqi security services. The highly
centralized authority structure of the Iraqi regime indicates
that torture, along with other egregious rights abuses, is an
essential component of a policy for domestic control formulated
at the highest levels of the regime.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Mass arrests were a common Iraqi tactic in repressing the
popular uprising in March and April. In southern Iraq,
house-to-house searches in Najaf, Karbala, Nasiriyah, and other
cities led to the arrest of thousands suspected of taking part
in opposition activities. The fate of most, including hundreds
of Shi ' a clerics, remains unknown. The 95-year-old Grand
Ayatollah Abdul Qasim Khoei, a venerated Shi ' a figure, is under
house arrest in Najaf. Khoei was arrested in late March and
taken to Baghdad, where he was compelled to make proregime
statements. He is occasionally subjected to the humiliation of
governinent-supervised visits by foreign visitors, during which
he is obliged to express support for the regime. When Khoei
became seriously ill late in the year, the Government delayed
nearly 2 weeks before bowing to international pressure and
allowing an international medical team to treat him. The
whereabouts of Khoei family members and supporters originally
taken into custody with him are unknown.
In the north, Iraqi authorities carried out similar mass
arrests of civilians during fighting with opposition elements.
Some detainees were reportedly used as "human shield" hostages
to deter attacks on government positions. A credible source
reported that more than 5,000 males, ranging in age from 15 to
60, were arrested in Kirkuk during March and were used as
hostages in various areas of the north. Most were believed to
have been released the following month, although some are
thought to have been executed shortly after their arrest. Many
similar incidents were reported during fighting in the south,
with women and children placed atop tanks which subsequently
bombarded residential areas. The fate of many detainees
remains unknown.
Although there were no known instances of Iraqi citizens being
exiled abroad, the refusal of Iraqi authorities to allow tens
of thousands of Kurds and Turcomans to return to their homes in
Kirkuk amounts to a policy of internal exile.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Iraq maintains a dual judicial system: a system of
"Revolutionary" and "special" courts for security offenses, and
a regular court system for all other charges. Civil, criminal,
and religious courts which hear ordinary cases embody many
internationally accepted legal norms. They provide for
investigation by police and then by an inquiry judge who may
refer a case to the courts or dismiss it. Trials are open to
public view, and defendants are entitled to counsel—at
government expense if the defendant is indigent. Charges and
evidence are available for review by the lawyer. Judges try
criminal cases; there are no juries. Convictions may be
appealed to the Court of Appeal and then to the Court of
Cassation, the Supreme Court. There are no Shari'a (Islamic)
courts as such in Iraq; however, family courts administer
Shari'a law according to Iraqi custom.
Security cases are handled by the Revolutionary Courts, which
usually conduct closed trials. Security cases include alleged
espionage and treason as well as other political offenses
(including peaceful dissent), smuggling, currency exchange
violations, and drug trafficking. The right of defense in such
courts is severely restricted. The "special courts"
constituted by the RCC for specific incidents are also closed.
These special tribunals are exempt from constitutional
safeguards of defendants' rights. Defendants are held
incommunicado, and confessions extracted by torture are
admissible and often serve as the basis for conviction. In
theory, appeals may be taken only to the Chairman of the RCC,
but there are reports of executions shortly after trial.
Political "dissent" encompasses an extremely wide range of
activities in Iraq, and thousands have been imprisoned without
charge or trial, or after trials which do not meet
international standards of fairness. Since public
acknowledgement of arrest or imprisonment is rare, it is
difficult to estimate the number of political prisoners in Iraq.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Iraqi Government's disregard for the right to privacy was
typified by RCC decree 341 in late 1990, which declared that
housing a foreigner for the purpose of concealing him or her
from the authorities was a "crime of espionage" punishable by
death. Constitutional guarantees of the inviolability of the
home were totally disregarded by Iraqi military and security
services in crushing the uprising. Iraq's traditionally broad
definition of "security offenses" was, in effect, extended to
exempt Iraqi authorities in virtually all circumstances from
the legal requirement to obtain a search warrant before
entering a suspect's home.
The security services have been known to take reprisals against
family members of dissidents operating inside or outside the
country. Many Iraqi expatriates have been intimidated or
dissuaded from opposition political activity by threats
against family members who remain in Iraq.
Despite constitutional safeguards for the confidentiality of
mail and telegraphic and telephone correspondence, official
telephone monitoring and censorship of private mail have long
been common practice.
Pervasive networks of informers maintained by the security
services and ABSP serve to deter dissident activity and
instill fear of the regime. The government-controlled public
education system particularly encourages children to inform on
their parents for suspected antiregime activities.
      g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
The popular uprising against the Government during March and
April demonstrated both the desire of the Iraqi people to
change their government and the lengths to which the regime
would go to retain power. Republican Guard and regular army
units wrought terrible destruction on population centers in
the north and south with sustained, indiscriminate bombardment
of residential areas by tanks, heavy artillery, and helicopter
Civilian casualties were estimated in tens of thousands, with
many attributed to attacks against masses of fleeing refugees
in both the north and the south. International human rights
authorities are investigating reports that hundreds of Kurds
were rounded up, executed, and buried in mass graves during
the uprising. International human rights groups are also
investigating reports that the Iraqi Government executed
between 100,000 and 300,000 Kurds in a 1988 military campaign
know as Operation Anfal. Victims were reportedly buried in
mass graves in remote areas.
In the south, many sites of unique religious and historical
importance were heavily damaged by Iraqi attacks. In
particular, historic Shi ' a holy shrines in Najaf and Karbala
were heavily damaged by artillery, the ancient Shi ' a cemetery
in Najaf was virtually destroyed, and Shi 'a mosques and
libraries were systematically looted. Thousands of
irreplaceable manuscripts and historical religious texts are
unaccounted for.
The Government's response to periodic renewals of opposition
activity during the year was similarly brutal and
disproportionate. Minor clashes between Kurdish guerrilla
fighters and Iraqi military units in northern Iraq in July and
September led to renewed artillery bombardment of Kirkuk,
Sulaymaniyah, and numerous other towns in the region.
Independent observers reported that Iraqi ground units and
helicopter gunships launched periodic attacks during the
second half of the year against dissident positions in the
southern marshes region, including the city of Nasiriyah.
These military operations are known to have caused thousands
of civilian casualties, although no precise estimate is
available. In addition, after suppressing these uprisings,
the Government took advantage of localized food shortages,
particularly in the south, and diverted food stocks away from
disadvantaged civilians as a tactic to increase its control.
Iraqi government interference with food and fuel shipments
into the north during the latter months of 1991 caused great
U.N. authorities and other international observers estimate
that up to half a million Shi ' a remain confined by military
blockade within the area of the southern marshes. Many are
believed to be military deserters or persons who took part in
the uprising.
The Iraqi authorities failed to comply with U.N. Security
Council Resolution 688. Adopted in April, the Resolution
required Iraq to cease repression of civilians and facilitate
international relief efforts in all parts of the country. A
Memorandum of Understanding between the Iraqi Government and
the United Nations on humanitarian relief operations in the
country similarly provided for the establishment of aid
centers throughout the country. Nevertheless, Iraqi
authorities continued to deny relief workers of the U.N. and
international aid organizations the required access to
threatened populations in the southern marshes region and the
northern city of Kirkuk.
In response to shortages of food and medical care in some
areas, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolutions 706 and
712, authorizing a limited sale of Iraqi petroleum to finance
the import of food, medicine, and essential relief supplies
under strict international supervision to ensure equitable
distribution to disadvantaged and vulnerable civilian
populations and guard against diversion to the military. At
the end of the year, Iraqi authorities had not yet accepted
Resolutions 706 and 712, a decision which ensured continued
deterioration of living conditions.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedoms of speech and press do not exist in Iraq, and
political dissent in any form is not tolerated. The
Government and the ABSP own all print and broadcast media and
operate them as propaganda outlets for the regime. Opposition
views are not reported, and the Government periodically
attempts to jam news broadcasts from outside Iraq (e.g., the
Voice of America, the British Broadcasting Corportation, and
radio stations maintained by Iraqi opposition groups in
neighboring countries) . Some foreign journalists were allowed
to operate in Iraq f jr brief periods during the year, but
government censors strictly limited travel and contact with
the Iraqi people. During the second half of the year, senior
officials repeatedly promised that new laws increasing press
freedom would be forthcoming, but no action was taken.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Iraqi citizens may not assemble or organize for any political
purpose other than to support the regime.
      c. Freedom of Religion
While the ABSP has traditionally sought to submerge religious
differences through the promotion of secular nationalism,
affiliation with a religious community remains important for
most Iraqis. The Government closely regulates Islamic affairs
under a 1981 law giving the Ministry of Endowments and
Religious Affairs authority over places of worship,
appointment of clergy, publication of religious literature,
and participation in religious councils and meetings. Sunni
religious leaders function under particularly close official
supervision and are considered salaried government employees.
There are no penalties under Iraqi law for conversion from one
religion to another, although there is a social stigma for
Muslims who convert.
International Shi 'a organizations view the Iraqi regime's
physical assault on ancient Shi ' a holy sites, despoliation of
religious libraries and archives, and detention of religious
leaders as a serious threat to religious freedom and to the
cultural institutions of Shi ' a Islam.
The Government has been less intrusive into the religious
affairs of Iraq's Christians, who number more than 300,000.
Their freedom of worship in churches of established
denominations is legally protected, but they may not
proselytize or hold meetings outside church premises.
The Jewish community has decreased from 150,000 following
World War II to an estimated 150, all in Baghdad, in early
1991. There is no recent evidence of overt persecution of
Jews, but the regime restricts travel (particularly to Israel)
and contacts with Jewish groups abroad. One synagogue in
Baghdad still functions.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Within the country, sensitive border areas and numerous
designated security zones are off-limits to all travelers.
There are police checkpoints on highways and outside major
towns. Only inspection teams of the International Atomic
Energy Agency and the U.N. Special Commission (charged with
shutting down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs and
dismantling current stocks of such weapons) are authorized to
travel to any site in Iraq without impediment, as stipulated by
U.N. Security Council Resolutions 699 and 707.
The Government has strictly controlled foreign travel by Iraqi
citizens since the early 1980 's. Overall travel controls were
eased in mid-May, and thousands began leaving Iraq. The
unavailability of commercial air transport due to U.N. economic
sanctions obliged all Iraqi travelers to go overland to Jordan,
where there were more than 100,000 at year's end. There were
numerous reports of Iraqi security personnel in Amman harassing
Iraqi citizens seeking international refugee status or visas
for onward travel.
There is no legal ban on emigration or special restrictions for
members of minority groups, although emigrants often must leave
behind substantial property because of the difficulty of
exporting assets. Currency exchange violations are considered
security offenses, and penalties can be severe. The
traditional requirement that a married woman have the
concurrence of her husband to travel abroad remained in effect.
The largest population movement during the year was the exodus
of more than a million refugees from northern and southern Iraq
due to suppression of the popular rebellion in March and
April. International intervention in the north facilitated the
return during the second half of the year of the vast majority
of those who had fled to Turkey and Iran.
However, the Government barred thousands of Kurds and Turcomans
displaced by the fighting early in the year from returning to
their homes in Kirkuk. Moreover, there are persistent reports
that the Government is attempting to alter the ethnic character
of the city's population by offering incentives to Arab
families from central Iraq to move to the Kirkuk area and
occupy land confiscated from Turcomans and Kurds.
That policy perpetuates the discrimination of past years, in
which mass forced relocations and government demolition of
villages denied hundreds of thousands of Kurdish, Assyrian, and
Turcoman residents of northern Iraq the right to choose their
places of residence. In the aftermath of the uprising many
began to reestablish residence on the sites of villages razed
by the Government over the past decade. Such resettlement
efforts have occurred without government approval, particularly
in the northern and northeastern areas of the country.
In addition, thousands of Iraqis who fled at the time of the
uprising—including about 4,000 Assyrians in Turkey and a much
larger number of Kurdish and Shi 'a refugees in Iran—had not
returned to Iraq as of year's end, owing to fear of government
In late 1990, the Government decided to end financial support
to Iraqi students overseas, resulting in a sharp decline in the
number of young Iraqis leaving for foreign study and financial
hardship for Iraqi students already studying abroad. A 1987
RCC decree, requiring Iraqi students abroad who refused to
return to Iraq to reimburse the Government for all education
received in Iraq or abroad at government expense, remained in
effect. The decree is applicable retroactively to students who
have refused to return since May 16, 1983, when the Government
began requiring employees leaving government jobs before 20
years of service to reimburse the State for the cost of their
education. Amounts due can be recovered by confiscation, and
nonpayment may result in imprisonment. Each student must
provide a guarantor before traveling abroad. The guarantor and
the student's parents may be held liable if the student fails
to return.
Non-Iraqi spouses of Iraqi citizens who have resided in Iraq
for 5 years must take Iraqi nationality or leave Iraq. Many
people have thus been obliged to accept Iraqi citizenship and
become subject to official travel restrictions. In March 1984,
an order by the RCC reduced the residency period before
naturalization to 1 year for the spouses of Iraqi citizens
employed in government offices. The Iraqi spouse faces
penalties for noncompliance, including loss of job, a
substantial financial penalty, and repayment of the costs of
education. Iraq does not recognize the concept of dual
nationality, and many Iraqi "dual nationals," especially the
children of an Iraqi father and a mother of non-Iraqi birth,
have been denied permission to leave Iraq to visit the country
of their other nationality.
Persons of Iraqi nationality with legal residence or
nationality in another country have generally been permitted to
enter and depart freely, although on a number of past occasions
persons who emigrated after 1980 were denied permission to
depart after entering Iraq for temporary visits. Some,
including U.S. citizens, were forcibly conscripted into the
Iraqi armed forces.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Iraqi citizens do not have the right to change their government
peacefully. Full political participation is confined to
members of the ABSP, estimated to nvimber 1 1/2 million, or
about 8 percent of the population. The ABSP governs the
country under the provisional Constitution of 1968, with
legislative and executive authority vested in the RCC. The
National Assembly and the legislative assembly of the Kurdish
Autonomous Region are totally subordinate to the executive.
General elections were last held for the 250-seat National
Assembly in April 1989.
Saddam Hussein wields decisive power over all instruments of
government as President of the Republic, Chairman of the RCC,
and Secretary General of the Regional (i.e., Iraq-wide) Command
of the ABSP. He was unanimously reelected to the latter two
positions during the 10th Congress of the ABSP in September. A
personal relationship with Saddam Hussein is much more
important for political advancement than is ABSP membership or
ideological affiliation, as reflected in the fact that Iraq's
most powerful officials are all members of the President's
family or long-time family allies from his home town of Tikrit.
Along with the ABSP, two small progovernment Kurdish parties
constitute the Patriotic and Progressive National Front (PNF),
essentially a vehicle of support for the Government. The
Communist Party was removed from the PNF and declared illegal
in 1979. ABSP membership is not required for appointment to
senior military or government positions or election to the
National Assembly but is essential to attain political
influence. Members of the military or security services may
engage in political activities only through the ABSP.
Opposition political organizations are illegal and severely
In early September the RCC adopted a law nominally authorizing
the creation of political parties other than the ABSP.
Official media trumpeted the measure as a step toward greater
freedom and democracy; in fact, it reinforced the preeminent
position of the ABSP by prohibiting parties based on any
organizing principle other than complete support for Saddam
Hussein and the present Government. New parties can be based
only in Baghdad and are barred from having any ethnic or
religious character, effectively barring natural opposition
constituencies such as the Shi ' a of southern Iraq or the
Assyrian, Turcoman, and Kurdish communities in the north from
forming legal political organizations.
In April the Government entered negotiations with the Kurdish
leadership aimed at political autonomy for the predominantly
Kurdish region of northern Iraq. The talks continued through
the year, but results were inconclusive. Kurdish and other
opposition sources have stated that negotiations became
deadlocked over Kurdish insistence on internal democratic
reforms which the Government rejected.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The one authorized human rights group in Iraq operates under
official control and routinely corroborates official denials of
any violations.
U.N. authorities and human rights organizations sharply
denounced the Government's flagrant record of human rights
abuses in 1991. The U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) in
March called upon Iraq to cease its violations and abide by its
obligations under international covenants on human rights. In
May the UNHRC formally appointed a Special Rapporteur to make a
thorough study of Iraqi violations and report to the 1992 UNHRC
session. Iraqi authorities promised to assist the Special
Rapporteur's investigation but declined to give assurance of
unimpeded access for on-site research in areas of Iraq where
repression was taking place.
An Iraqi report to the UNHRC Human Rights Committee in July
denied any violations in Iraq but failed to address specific
questions on torture, summary and arbitrary executions,
disappearances, minority rights, and past use of chemical
weapons. Later in the month Amnesty International (AI) issued
a formal call for establishment of a permanent human rights
monitoring presence in Iraq. The Government did not respond to
this initiative. The Government also invited AI on April 30 to
visit northern Iraq to assess the situation but subsequently
failed to pursue the visit once AI requested broad access to
government officials and records and to all regions of Iraq, as
well as the ability to interview and medically examine
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
The striking cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity of
Iraqi society is not reflected in the country's political and
economic structure. Sunni Arabs, who constitute only about 12
percent of the country's population (excluding migrant Arab
workers), have effectively controlled Iraq since independence
in 1932. Shi 'a Arabs, who make up nearly 60 percent of the
population and live mainly in the south, have long been
economically, politically, and socially disadvantaged, and the
benefits of a decade of intensive government investment in the
south were obliterated by brutal Iraqi military campaigns
during the uprising.
Iraq's 17-percent Kurdish population has traditionally suffered
extreme political and economic discrimination, despite the
presence of a small number as figureheads in the Iraqi
Government. Kurds serve in the Iraqi military, including the
officer corps, but are excluded from senior command positions.
The small but significant Iraqi Christian community has
traditionally suffered little overt discrimination due to
religious affiliation. Some churches were targeted by Iraqi
forces during the uprising, however, and a number of Christians
who fled to Turkey in the aftermath of the fighting cited both
oppression by Iraqi authorities and discrimination by the
north's Kurdish majority as factors in their decision to remain
in Turkish refugee camps rather than return to an uncertain
future in Iraq.
The use of minority languages is unrestricted. Kurdish is an
official language used by the media and schools in
predominantly Kurdish areas, although the official curriculum
disregards Kurdish history and culture. Turcomans publish in
their dialect of Turkish, and Assyrian Christians often use
Aramaic as well as Arabic. Citizens considered to be of
Iranian origin carry special identification. They are often
precluded from desirable employment.
The ABSP is formally committed to equality for women, who
comprise about 20 percent of the Iraqi work force. Laws have
been enacted to protect women from exploitation in the
workplace and sexual harassment; grant subsidized maternity
leave; permit women to join the regular army. Popular Army, and
police forces; require education for female children; and
equalize women's rights in divorce, land ownership, taxation,
suffrage, and election to the National Assembly. Nevertheless,
married women may still travel abroad only with the permission
of their husbands.
Violence against women, such as wife beating and rape, is known
to occur, but little is known about its extent. Such abuse is
customarily addressed within the tightly knit Iraqi family
structure. There is no public discussion of the subject, and
there are no official statistics. Excessive violence against
women would be grounds for divorce and criminal charges, but
suits brought on these charges in Iraq are believed to be rare.
 Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
Trade unions independent of government control do not exist in
Iraq. The trade union organization law of June 2, 1987,
prescribed a single trade union structure for organized labor.
Workers in private and mixed enterprises and in
cooperatives—but not public employees or workers in state
enterprises—have the right to join a local union committee.
The committees form trade unions which in turn are part of
provincial trade union federations. At the top is a single
umbrella organization, the Iraqi General Federation of Trade
Unions, which is organically linked to the Ba ' ath Party and
required to promote party principles and policies among union
members. The General Federation is affiliated with the
International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions and the
Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions.
Although workers legally have the right to strike after
providing notice to the Labor Ministry, no labor strike has
been reported over the past two decades.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The right to bargain collectively is not recognized. Salaries
for public sector workers (i.e., the bulk of the employed) are
set by the Government. Wages in the much smaller private
sector are set by employers or negotiated individually with
The Labor Code does not protect workers from antiunion
discrimination, a failure that has been repeatedly criticized
by the Committee of Experts of the International Labor
Organization (ILO).
There are no export processing zones in Iraq.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Although compulsory labor is prohibited by law, the Popular
Army (ABSP militia) used press-gang methods to draft recruits
during and shortly after the war with Iran and again during
Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.
ILO committees have noted that Iraq's Penal Code allows
punishment of civil servants with imprisonment, including
compulsory prison labor, for breaches of labor discipline,
including resignation from the job.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Employment of children under age 14 is legally forbidden except
in small-scale family enterprises, but children are frequently
encouraged to work as necessary to support the family. The law
stipulates that employees between the ages of 14 and 18 work
fewer hours per week than adults.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The workweek in urban areas is 6 days, 7 to 8 hours per day,
for workers in the private and mixed sectors. These provisions
do not apply to agricultural workers, whose workweek
and workday vary according to individual employer-employee
agreements. Hours for government employees are set by the head
of each ministry.
Occupational safety programs are in effect in state-run
enterprises, and inspectors are supposed to make periodic
inspections of private establishments. Enforcement varies