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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 00:14 GMT
Iraq invites human rights inspection
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and advisors
Iraqi leaders: Accused of brutal repression of opponents
By the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in Geneva

The government of Iraq has invited a United Nations human rights expert to visit the country in what will be the first such mission in 10 years.

Iraq banned envoys from visiting the country in 1992 following damning reports about human rights abuses.


In October Mr Mavrommatis warned the UN General Assembly that the people of Iraq faced arbitrary execution and torture

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Andreas Mavrommatis of Cyprus, the man charged with overseeing human rights in Iraq, would spend three or four days there next month at the invitation of the Iraqi Government.

Mr Mavrommatis will be carrying out an exploratory mission but he is likely to view the visit as a first step and will seek permission to carry out a longer visit to the country.

Since his appointment in December 1999, Mr Mavrommatis has made several requests to be allowed to visit Iraq and, according to a statement issued by the UN office, has always expressed a willingness to establish a constructive dialogue on human rights with the Iraqi Government.

Regular accusations

In 1992 the Iraqi Government banned further missions after the former Iraq expert, Max van der Stoel of the Netherlands, issued a damning report of human rights abuses he found there and criticised the brutal measures employed by the Iraqi leadership to stifle political opposition.

The UN Human Rights Commission has regularly accused Baghdad of abuses.

In April last year the body said Iraq was guilty of all-pervasive repression and widespread terror.

Mr Mavrommatis has also voiced concern. In October he warned the United Nations General Assembly that the people of Iraq faced arbitrary execution and torture.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Greg Barrow at the UN
"If Iraq does not co-operate with the UN, the US maybe ready to consider more robust action"
See also:

26 Jan 02 | Middle East
Nuclear watchdog checks Iraq site
29 Nov 01 | Middle East
UN votes to overhaul Iraq sanctions
29 Nov 01 | Middle East
Iraq seeks to deflect US pressure
29 Nov 01 | Middle East
Mid-East warns US on Iraq
26 Nov 01 | Americas
Bush warns Iraq over UN inspectors
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