Constitutional Provisions

Section 2 of Iraq’s 2005 Constitution concerns human rights and freedoms. Article 15 guarantees its citizens “the right to enjoy life, security and liberty” and provides that the “deprivation or restriction of these rights is prohibited except in accordance with the law and based on a decision issued by a competent judicial authority.”

Article 20(1) states that: “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person." According to Article 37(C):

All forms of psychological and physical torture and inhumane treatment are prohibited. 

Article 38 provides that:

The State shall guarantee in a way that does not violate public order and morality: ... Freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration, and this shall be regulated by law.

The Constitution does not specifically refer to the police or other law enforcement bodies.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties

1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Not party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties

2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights

State Party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Iraq does not have detailed regulation of the use of force by law enforcement agencies as international law requires. Internal security forces in Iraq are authorised to use force by the 1980 Law on Police Officers’ Crime Prevention Duties, which allows the use of force "to suppress unrest, which may threaten order and public security”.Art. 4, Law on Police Officers’ Crime Prevention Duties, Law No. 176 of 1980.It further permits use of firearms -- even if it would lead to a ‘deliberate murder’ -- to prevent abduction, arson, resistance or escape from arrest by an offender convicted to death or to life imprisonment, the occupation or destruction of places with members of the internal security forces, the destruction or occupation of equipment or property under the responsibility of the police, and sabotage of public utilities.Art. 3(2), Law on Police Officers’ Crime Prevention Duties, Law No. 176 of 1980.These rules do not comply with international law.

In addition, Article 127 of the 1971 Criminal Procedure Code states that “The use of any illegal method to influence the accused and extract an admission is not permitted. Mistreatment, threats, injury, enticement, promises, psychological influence or use of drugs or intoxicants are considered illegal methods.” Article 333 of the 1969 Penal Code stipulates that:

Any public official or agent who tortures or orders the torture of an accused, witness or informant in order to compel him to confess to the commission of an offence or to make a statement or provide information about such offence or to withhold information or to give a particular opinion in respect of it is punishable by imprisonment or by penal servitude. Torture shall include the use of force or menaces.

Police Oversight

The Ministry of Interior is responsible for the supervision, training, and administrative support for control of Iraq’s police.  There are three branches: the Iraqi Police Service, the Federal Police, and supporting forces. 



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In 2015, in its Concluding observations on Iraq, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern about

allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement and security officials to disperse demonstrations, which in some instances has reportedly resulted in the loss of life and people being wounded. 

The Committee called on Iraq to ensure

that all instances of excessive use of force are promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and those responsible brought to justice. It should also take measures to effectively prevent and eradicate all forms of excessive use of force by law-enforcement and security officials, including by guaranteeing their systematic training on the use of force, taking due account of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

In 2015, in its Concluding observations on Iraq, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed its concern "about reported acts of torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment committed against children by the police."

The Committee against Torture, in its concluding observations on Iraq the same year, stated that it

remains deeply concerned by reports of routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, as well as in pretrial detention centres run by the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence, primarily to extract confessions or information to be used in criminal proceedings. 


2005 Constitution of Iraq

1971 Criminal Procedure Code of Iraq

1969 Penal Code of Iraq

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations (2015)

Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations (2015)

Committee against Torture Concluding Observations on Iraq (2015)