BAGHDAD — Iraq is falling back into authoritarianism and headed towards becoming a police state, despite US claims that it has helped establish democracy in the country, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.
The criticism from the New York-based HRW, which the government quickly disputed, comes less than a year after thousands of Iraqis took to the streets nationwide to criticise the government for poor services.
« Iraq cracked down harshly during 2011 on freedom of expression and assembly by intimidating, beating and detaining activists, demonstrators and journalists, » HRW said in a statement accompanying its annual report.
It noted that Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, that women’s rights remain poor and civilians have paid a heavy toll in bomb attacks.
The rights group pointed to the discovery of a secret prison last February run by forces controlled by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s office, the same troops who ran Camp Honour, another facility where detainees were tortured.
« Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism as its security forces abuse protesters, harass journalists and torture detainees, » Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director, said in the statement.