Minister warns of ‘humanitarian’ situation in Iraqi prisons

Justice minister says government owes more than $34 million to contractor companies providing food for prisoners

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Iraqi Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimari warned on Saturday of a “humanitarian disaster” if contractor companies stop providing food for prisoners due to government non-payment.

The reason for non-payment dates back to parliament not approving Iraq’s 2014 budget, Shimari said.

This has led to contractor companies being owed more than $34 million, he added.

Money allocated for such expenses is not enough, and the number of prisoners is increasing, Shimari said.

In 2013, Shimari said the number of prisoners in Iraq was about 31 thousand as oppose to a British figure that put them at around 41 thousand.

While Shimari says his ministry follows “humanitarian standards” in its treatment to Iraqi prisoners, a recent Amnesty International's annual survey on death sentences and capital punishment highlighted Iraq and Iran.

It said at least 778 executions were known to have been carried out globally in 2013, 538 of them in Iran and Iraq alone. It said these figures were “shameful.”

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