01/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iraqi Justice System Has Fallen Short

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's central criminal court, the country's chief judicial institution, has fallen short of international and Iraqi constitutional standards of due process and has failed to provide "basic assurances of fairness," according to a report released Monday by Human Rights Watch.

The report portrays a system under which defendants are often abused in custody and held for months or even years before being referred to a judge. When cases are heard, the defendants are often left without adequate defense counsel to answer charges, which are frequently based on secret informants, coerced confessions and flimsy evidence, the report found. Juvenile detainees are often held with adults, it found, despite an Iraqi law ordering them to be held separately.

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