Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, June 12, 2006

Fear Plague’s Iraq’s Attorney’s

As reported in the Washington Post by Nelson Hernandez and Saad al-Izzi, “Iraq’s legal system, once one of the most secular in the Middle East, is in shambles.” Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, “many of the best-educated have fled the country.” While the lawyers’ union, Iraq’s equivalent to the bar association, is still functioning, it is not without fear. Kamal Hamdoun, head of Iraq’s lawyers’ union says that, “police are afraid to investigate sectarian murders and lawyers are afraid to take either side of a case and risk the wrath of powerful militia’s or well-armed gangs.”

Iraq’s legal system had been designed in the 1920’s “to resemble the Egyptian and French models.” The system “generally meted out fair justice guided by well-trained lawyers and judges.” Khaled Abou El Fadl, a law professor at UCLA and a scholar of Islamic law said that, “it was an impressive overall legal system, as long as it did not get into the political sphere.”

The Washington Post reports that the lawyers and American legal scholars are blaming the United States for the lack of legal organization. “When the U.S. military came in, they basically destroyed the entire infrastructure of the state,” said Chief Bassiouni, a law professor at DePaul University and President of the International Human Rights Law Institute.

The article reports that many Iraqi lawyers believe that “nearly every part of the criminal justice system is tainted, from the moment police arrest someone to the trial, judgment and the corrections system.” The situation has taken a toll on many of the lawyers. “The best lawyers have already left eh country or sought other jobs,” Jubouri, an Iraqi lawyer states. He continues, “I’m not proud. When I introduce myself, I do not say I’m a lawyer.”

To read this article in full click here.


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