The Sub-committee on Human Rights and Democracy under the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) was held in a virtual format on 8 September/2020. This was the first such Sub-committee since 2015, and the first since PCA entered into force in August 2018.
1- The EU and Iraq reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening joint cooperation and discussed a number of human rights, democracy and governance topics, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, internally displaced persons, mass graves and identification forced returns, (perceived) Da’esh affiliated families, vulnerable groups, women’s rights, right to fair trial, capital punishment, multilateral human rights fora, Iraq’s national reforms (including the national dialogue) and development priorities, the fight against corruption and crime, and elections.
2- The EU informed about its policy on freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly, inquired about the ongoing investigations of violence following recent protests, and underlined the important work of civil society organizations and human rights defenders. The EU outlined its approach to advancing equality for all and its commitment to fight discrimination on any ground, including sexual orientation. The EU noted the progress made by the Iraqi side in tabling draft legislation to address domestic violence and prevent torture, and underlined the importance of a comprehensive approach to the right to fair trial in particular, as well as reiterated its opposition to the use of capital punishment in all circumstances.
3- The EU also stated its commitment to supporting Iraq in meeting the demands of the Iraqi citizens in terms of functional institutions, efficient public service delivery - including social protection and labour governance systems, macro-economic stability, diversification of economy and the development of a private sector and investment enabling environment; while underlining the importance for Iraq to step-up reform efforts as well as tackling corruption and improving the overall human rights situation.
4- Iraq stated its commitment to respecting the principles of human rights and the equality among Iraqis, regardless of gender, race, religion, and other grounds for discrimination. Iraq reaffirmed the right to life, security, freedom, equal opportunities, the right to fair trial, and the right to work and own property.
5- Iraq expressed appreciation to the EU for the partnership in the field of human rights and democracy, including regarding several programs and projects in Iraq. The role of the EU and its support for the Iraqi government in finding durable solutions for internally displaced persons was also emphasized, including with respect to facilitating the issuance of personal documents, reintegration, sustainable reconciliation and the return of displaced persons to their original areas of residence in a safe, stable, voluntary, and non-discriminatory manner in line with international law.
6- Iraq further expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the EU to face the health and socio-economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular health and basic services to displaced persons in camps, and health supplies to prevent the risk of infection.
7- Iraq stressed the Government’s commitment to implementing its reform program, which is focusing on protecting the sovereignty and security of Iraq, continuing to combat terrorism, fighting corruption, protecting wealth, holding early free and fair elections, ensuring the State’s monopoly on the use of force, preparing an exceptional budget bill to deal with the economic crisis that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, launching a comprehensive national dialogue, meeting the legitimate demands of the protest movement, ensuring accountability for offenders, and providing care for and assistance to the families of the martyrs. For its part, the EU welcomed the reforms already undertaken by the Iraqi Government, confirmed its support for the implementation of the Government’s reform program, and expressed its continued support to Iraq in building strong institutions capable of achieving good governance, transparent public finance management and solid legal and policy frameworks. The EU also stated the importance of ensuring Iraq-led coordination of all international efforts in support of Iraq.
8- The EU and Iraq agreed to continue strengthening the partnership and implementing the PCA with the intention to hold two foreseen Subcommittees on trade and energy, respectively, before the end of the year. The two sides also agreed to hold a new round of the bilateral Migration Dialogue before the end of the year.