Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Iraq; United Nations: Free Legal Aid for Detainees

(May 3, 2010) On April 28, 2010, a meeting was held in Amman, Jordan, to review the United Nations program to provide legal assistance to detainees in Iraq. Aid for their legal defense has been available through 20 centers, each with up to seven lawyers; the centers were established in September 2009 and cover 16 of the 19 governorates in Iraq. To date, over 600 cases have been referred to the centers and 365 were considered eligible for legal services. More than 1,400 people have been assisted through telephone consultations. Referrals to the centers come from a wide variety of offices, including the police, lawyers, the courts, prisons, rehabilitation centers, and shelters. (Iraqi Detainees Offered Free Legal Aid in UN-Backed Scheme, UN NEWS CENTRE, Apr. 28, 2010, available at

According to Gerhard Pansegrouw, the Iraq Director for the U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Iraqi lawyers and other representatives of civil society at the meeting attempted to “identify remaining challenges as well as ways to reach out further to detainees that fall through the cracks in the legal system.” (Id.)

The centers are managed through the Program for the Protection of Detainees and Torture Victims of UNOPS, and the funding, which amounts to the equivalent of US$8.44 million, is provided by the European Union. The legal services are provided without charge to those who, due to financial status, gender, or family position, are unable to have access to attorneys. (Id.)

Speaking about the impact of the program, one lawyer from Babil, in central Iraq, expressed the hope that the ties between government and civil society would be improved through the program and that it would work for the “spread of a human rights culture in Iraq.” (Id.)