In Iraq, thousands of detainees continue to be held outside the existing legal framework. This is partly because the Iraqi courts do not have the capacity to give a ruling on the high number of existing cases. It is also widely recognized that Iraqi prison facilities do not always conform to minimum international standards, such as separating adults from juveniles or convicts of petty crime from those of serious crime. The location of prisons leaves many prisoners far from home and family. Pre-trial detainees are routinely housed with convicted prisoners. Personnel in correctional facilities are not always familiar with international minimum standards. Torture victims are still in need of psychological and medical support.

In 2009, with EU support, the UN worked with national authorities to assist victims of torture and improve respect for human rights in 11 detention centres, identified together with the responsible Iraqi ministries. Government staff was trained on public relations and media, and promotion of human rights. To build the capacity on human rights issues of prison staff , workshops were held. To strengthen the protection of detainees’ human rights and their access to human rights and justice, twenty legal defence centres were established supported by human rights lawyers. 110 cases of human rights issues were handled at the centres. Victims of torture were supported with medical and psychosocial rehabilitation: 803 primary and secondary torture victims were treated by the Bahjat Al Foad Rehabilitation Centre in Basra during 2009. The partnership provided support to the Kirkuk Centre for Torture Victims where departments for men, women and children are now operational. In 2009, 1,354 clients were treated by the centre.

In 2009, with EU support, the UN continued to support Iraqi judicial institutions such as the ministry of Justice, building long-term sustainable capacity to enhance the administration of justice. Support also focuses on the establishment of pilot courts in Erbil and Bara.