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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
UK helps Iraq on human rights
US soldiers pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad
Rebuilding Iraq involves a human rights agenda
A British university is helping to train officials from Iraq to build a human rights programme.

Lawyers from Nottingham University are to run a training scheme for Iraqi officials in Amman, Jordan, in June.

They were asked to run a week-long course by the new Iraqi Human Rights Ministry in Baghdad and Britain's Foreign Office.

Michael O'Flaherty, of Nottingham University, says it is a key step in a long, crucial process.

'Hands-on approach'

He has brought together human rights experts from Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait to do most of the training.

"Together we are confident we can help develop the hands-on human rights skills which are so badly needed at this critical juncture in Iraq," he told BBC News Online.

Mr O'Flaherty, who is the co-director of the university's Human Rights Law Centre, previously worked in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and established the UN human rights programmes in Sierra Leone and Bosnia.

The Amman course will cover a range of responsibilities which fall to the Baghdad Ministry of Human Rights, including monitoring of abuses, dealing with the crimes of the past, and the development of a national human rights plan of action.

It will be given mostly in Arabic and Mr O'Flaherty says it was vital that human rights experts from the region were involved.

"This isn't a theoretical course. It's about how to apply international laws on human rights, so we will be looking at how Iraq's neighbours in the region have tackled these issues," he said.

"This is the beginning of a process, working with dedicated public servants who want to do a good job and make sure the new Iraq follows human rights.

"It will help us make a critical contribution to Iraqi efforts to put justice and the rule of law centre stage".

Other items on the course will include dealing with the reconstruction of Iraq in a way that is "respectful" of women, children's rights and the treatment of minority groups.

It will also cover how to deal with prisoners in a humane manner, in the run-up to the Human Rights Ministry taking over as a watchdog for Iraq's prison service.

The course curriculum was largely compiled before recent allegations of human rights abuses were made against some US and UK troops based in Iraq.

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