The Higher Judicial Council (HJC) has released its statistical report for 2008. The report sets out in tabular and graphic form figures for the number of cases heard before various different federal courts, the number of convictions for various different crimes, numbers of detainees and a lot of other analyses.
The excellent HJC website contains an account of the formation of the HJC, a structure chart, press releases, articles by judges, academics and other commentators, a history of the Amnesty law, a collection of press reports about the HJC and other materials.
The HJC is the administrative body which also oversees the affairs of federal courts and court staff. The federal court system comprises the ordinary civil, labour, personal status and criminal courts (including the Central Criminal Court). It does not include the Federal Supreme Court, military courts, the administrative court function of the Shura Council or the Iraqi High Tribunal. Under Article 91 of the Constitution the HJC is mandated:
First: To manage the affairs of the judiciary and supervise the federal judiciary and prosecution system.
Second:To nominate the Chief Justice and members of the Federal Court of Cassation, the Chief Public Prosecutor, and the Chief Justice of the Judiciary Oversight Commission, and to present those nominations to the Council of Representatives to approve their appointment.
Third: To propose the draft of the annual budget of the federal judicial authority, and to present it to the Council of Representatives for approval.
The HJC was re-established by CPA Order 35 of 13 September 2003 and CPA Memo 12 of 8 May 2004 as a body independent of the Ministry of Justice. Those laws amended the Judicial Organisation Law 160 of 1979 and the Law of Public Prosecution 159 of 1979, however the precise law governing the Iraqi Judiciary is in need of a single piece of legislation providing clarification. The HJC themselves provided a draft law to the Council of Representatives in Summer 2008 which led to a bill which reached its second reading but has not yet led to primary legislation and the Constitutional Review Committee are still in the process of considering some amendments to the present system.
The independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by Article 87 of the Constitution. In addition to the presentation of the senior judiciary for approval by the Council of Representatives, the HJC is responsible for the selection and discipline of the lower judiciary and prosecutors.
Over 40 members of the judiciary have been murdered in Iraq since 2003. Other judges have been attacked and family members kidnapped, assaulted or murdered.