Press Release

UNDP Launches Trial Monitoring Report Spotlighting Progress in Iraq’s Anti-Corruption Efforts

03 June 2024

Baghdad, June 2, 2024 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with funding from the European Union, today launched the Trial Monitoring Report in collaboration with Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office.

"The findings of this report underscore the Government of Iraq's commitment to curbing corruption and creating a more transparent and equitable society," said Auke Lootsma, UNDP Iraq’s Resident Representative. "UNDP remains steadfast in our partnership with the Supreme Judicial Council to support critical judicial reforms that will help attract much-needed foreign investment to Iraq."

The report, a key component of UNDP's Anti-Corruption and Commercial Dispute Resolution initiatives, highlights significant progress in the Iraqi judiciary's handling of high-level corruption cases. Through comprehensive quantitative and qualitative analysis, the report offers tailored recommendations to further strengthen Iraq's anti-corruption efforts and promote the rule of law. “Iraq is committed to continue taking steps to curb corruption, build a transparent society and strengthen the citizen trust. We will follow up on the findings and the recommendations of the report” said Najem Abdullah Ahmed Mohammed, The Head of Public Prosecution, Supreme Judicial Council.

“Moving forward, the European Union, along with UNDP and UNAMI will continue to work closely with the Supreme Judicial Council to implement the report's recommendations and provide targeted assistance where necessary. We are proud to say that these collaborative efforts are aligned with the Government of Iraq's broader priorities in addressing corruption and bolstering the country's economic development,” said Thomas Seiler, European Union Ambassador to Iraq.

Positive developments in the fight against corruption

The report, covering August 2022 to July 2023, examined significant anti-corruption progress in Iraq, with a focus on the work of the country's Central Anti-Corruption Criminal Court. The report analyzed 184 monitored cases and 173 verdicts issued between 2019 and 2022, particularly high-profile corruption cases involving large sums of money, senior government officials, and cases of public interest or against whistleblowers. The monitoring found the specialized court to be effective at focusing efforts on prosecuting high-level corruption cases. There was an observable increase in the number of resolved cases between the review and monitoring periods. Additionally, it noted a rise in convictions, including of senior government officials, as well as a decrease in the number of cases returned to the pre-trial stage. However, there was also an uptick in trials conducted in absentia. Most importantly, the report raised genuine concerns that inconsistent penalties and the existing amnesty regime could have a negative effect on the deterrent role of anti-corruption criminal offenses.

The report found that over half (55%) of the monitored corruption cases were concentrated in the Baghdad governorate. In terms of sectors, graft was most prevalent at the governorate and municipal levels, as well as within the Ministries of Finance and Industry. Despite ongoing limitations in civil society engagement with anti-corruption adjudication and investigations, the UNDP program observed positive developments in the implementation of fair trial rights, in accordance with international and Iraqi legal standards.

Improving transparency and accountability in Iraq’s anti-corruption efforts

The report recommends a range of measures to improve transparency and accountability in Iraq's anti-corruption efforts, involving the government, judiciary, civil society, and international community. Key proposed actions include enhancing investigative capabilities, amending the Penal Code and other legislation to exclude major corruption cases from amnesty, developing unified sentencing policies, and strengthening oversight mechanisms. Additionally, the report emphasizes the need for better legal representation, capacity building for civil society, cross-border cooperation for asset recovery, and the creation of a court information management system.

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Tayfun Yilmaz

UNDP Iraq, Communications Specialist
Mohammed Al-Bahbahanee

Mohammed Al-Bahbahanee

Communications Specialist

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United Nations Development Programme

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