The Democracy and Human Rights Sub-Committee of the (European Union-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (PCA) held a virtual meeting on September 8, 2020, which is the first meeting of this committee since 2015, and the first since the entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in August / 2018.
1- The European Union and Iraq affirmed their commitment to strengthening joint cooperation, and discussed human rights, democracy and governance issues, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, internally displaced persons, mass graves, identification of cases of forced return, (expected), and Da’esh families, Vulnerable groups, women’s rights, the right to a fair trial, the death penalty, multilateral human rights forums, national reforms in Iraq (including national dialogue), development priorities, fighting corruption and crime, and elections.
2- The European Union clarified its policy on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, inquired about the ongoing investigations into the violence that followed the recent protests, and stressed the importance of the work carried out by civil society organizations and human rights defenders, and also outlined its approach to the advancement of equality and commitment to combat all types of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex. The European Union referred to the progress made by the Iraqi side in submitting a draft law to address domestic violence and prevent torture for consideration in its legislation, and reiterated its desire to adopt a comprehensive approach to the right to a fair trial in particular, and affirmed its opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.
3- The European Union also affirmed its commitment to support Iraq to meet the demands of Iraqi citizens in terms of activating the work of institutions, and providing effective public services, including social protection systems, labor administration systems, macroeconomic stability, diversifying the economy, developing the private sector, and enabling the investment environment, with emphasis on the importance of Iraq stepping up reform efforts, tackling corruption, and improving the general situation of human rights.
4- Iraq affirmed its commitment to respect the principles of human rights and freedoms, freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to equality among Iraqis regardless of race, religion and other grounds for discrimination, and Iraq reaffirmed the right to life, security, freedom, equal opportunity, and the right to a fair trial and right to work and own property.
5- Iraq expressed its appreciation to the European Union for the partnership in the field of human rights and democracy, including its support for a number of programs and projects in Iraq, as well as the role of the European Union and its support for the Iraqi government in finding durable solutions for internally displaced persons, including those related to facilitating the issuance of personal documents, reintegration, sustainable reconciliation, return of displaced people to their areas of origin, and residency in a safe, stable and voluntary manner without discrimination and in line with international law.
6- Iraq also expressed its appreciation for the assistance provided by the European Union to face the health, social and economic crisis that has worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the field of health services, essential for the displaced in the camps, and health supplies to prevent the risks of infection.
7- Iraq stressed the government’s commitment to implementing its reform program that focuses on (protecting Iraq’s sovereignty and security, continuing to combat terrorism, fighting corruption, protecting wealth, holding early free and fair elections, keeping weapons in the hands of the state, and 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 perpetrators of crimes, and providing care and assistance to the families of martyrs.
On its part, the European Union welcomed the reforms already undertaken by the Iraqi government, affirmed its support for the implementation of the government’s reform program, and expressed its continued support for Iraq in building strong institutions capable of achieving good governance, transparent public financial management, and solid legal and political frameworks, as well as the importance of the European Union and ensuring Iraqi-led coordination of all international efforts to support Iraq.
8- The European Union and Iraq agreed to continue strengthening the partnership and implementing the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the intention to hold two expected sub-committees on trade and energy respectively before the end of the year. The two sides also agreed to hold a new round of bilateral dialogue on migration before the end of this year.