Inside Baghdad’s al-Taji jail and al-Nasseriya jail in the southern Dhi Qar province in Iraq, prisoners accused of terrorism infractions have been detained without trial since 2005. For almost 12 years, the authorities have violated these detainees’ rights to a speedy and fair trial.
Inmates in these two prisons are regularly denied access to medicine and treatment. In Baghdad’s al-Taji jail, an estimate of 500 of the 5000 prisoners are currently in need of medical assistance. The deprivation of medical care has become so severe that several detainees have died.
International Human Rights Law holds that prisoners shall be provided with adequate medical assistance. The universal and non-discriminatory character of the right to health entitles prisoners to unhindered access to medical care. Similarly, the preamble of the constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) states that ‘The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition’. Thus, while imprisonment inherently limits certain freedoms, it must not in any case affect the right to health.
Defenders for Medical Impartiality calls on the Iraqi authorities to immediately cease denying prisoners the right to fair trial. We additionally urge the authorities to provide detainees with adequate medical assistance, and to respect the non-interference principle of medical Impartiality and the right to health.