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Wed 3 Dec 2008 09:07 AM

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UN: Serious rights abuses continue in Iraq

Killings of professionals, assaults on minorities, torture of detainees, attacks on women rife.

Serious human rights abuses continued in Iraq during the first half of the year despite improvements in general security, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The UN said in a report that abuses such as targeted killings of professionals, assaults on minorities, torture of detainees and attacks against women were still widespread, and called on the Iraqi government to take steps to address the situation.

"Grave human rights violations that are less widely reported [than general security], and the elimination of which requires long-term political commitment, remain unaddressed," the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement.

The UN said the targeted killings of journalists, educators, medical doctors, judges and lawyers continued, as did criminal abductions for ransom.

Minorities continued to be the victims of violence, as well as the destruction of property and cultural sites, it said.

The UN called on the government to adopt "effective measures" to support vulnerable communities, including religious and ethnic minorities, and investigate incidents involving gender-based violence.

It said the widespread ill-treatment and torture of detainees by law enforcement authorities was "of great concern".

The number of detainees held by the United States-led Multinational Forces in IRAQ (MNF-I) remained steady at between 21,000 and 23,000 and was down to 21,881 on June 30m, it said.

“UNAMI remained concerned about the internment of suspects in MNF-I custody for prolonged periods without judicial review of their cases, and administrative review procedures that do not fulfil the requirement to grant detainees due process in accordance with internationally recognized norms," it said.

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