23 February 2015 – A UN report released Monday
documents widespread human rights violations of an increasingly
sectarian nature in Iraq, as well as a deterioration of the rule of law
in large parts of the country.
The report, produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq
(UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
covers the period from 11 September to 10 December 2014.
It documents serious violations of international humanitarian law and
gross abuses of human rights perpetrated over a three month period by
the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with an apparent
systematic and widespread character. These include killings of
civilians, abductions, rapes, slavery and trafficking of women and
children, forced recruitment of children, destruction of places of
religious or cultural significance, looting and the denial of
fundamental freedoms, among others.
“Members of Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious communities,
including Turkmen, Shabaks, Christians, Yezidi, Sabaeans, Kaka’e, Faili
Kurds, Arab Shi’a, and others have been intentionally and systematically
targeted by ISIL and associated armed groups and subjected to gross
human rights abuses, in what appears as a deliberate policy aimed at
destroying, suppressing or expelling these communities permanently from
areas under their control,” the report says.
The report also details the murder of captured members of Iraqi
security forces and of people suspected of being associated with the
Government by ISIL. Individuals suspected of being disloyal to ISIL,
including religious, community and tribal leaders, journalists, doctors
as well as female community and political leaders have been particularly
targeted. During the reporting period, at least 165 executions were
carried out following sentences by so called “courts” in ISIL-controlled
“Many of the violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL may amount to
war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide,” the report
The report also details violations of international humanitarian and
international human rights law reportedly committed by the Iraqi
Security Forces (ISF) and affiliated armed groups during the same
period, including failures to abide by the principles of distinction and
proportionality in the conduct of military operations.
“Armed groups claiming to be affiliated to or supporting the
Government also perpetrated targeted killings, including of captured
fighters from ISIL and its associated armed groups, abductions of
civilians, and other abuses,” the report says.
Militias and other armed groups – some of which appear to be
operating outside of Government control according to reports - are
active in several governorates, particularly in Diyala and Salah-al-Din.
Allegations of human rights abuses by these militias have been
received, including summary executions and abductions, according to the
At least 11,602 civilians have been killed and 21,766 wounded from
the beginning of January until 10 December 2014. Between 1 June and 10
December 2014, when the conflict spread from Anbar to other areas of
Iraq, at least 7, 801 civilians were killed and 12,451 wounded.
“ISIL’s goal remains to destroy the Iraqi state and society by
fermenting violence and division,” said Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov, noting that the figures
provided should be regarded as absolute minimums, given the limitations
on UNAMI/OHCHR capacity to verify reports of civilian casualties and
allegations of human rights abuses.
“Iraqi leaders need to move immediately and implement the
Government’s agenda of national unity and reconciliation in order to put
an end to the heinous crimes committed by ISIL, and ensure that all
armed groups are under state control,” Mr. Mladenov added.
The report also notes that the number of civilians who have died from
the secondary effects of violence, including the lack of access to
food, water or medical care, remains unknown. Large numbers remained
trapped or displaced in areas under the control of ISIL during the
reporting period, with limited access to humanitarian assistance.
Children, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and elderly people
proved particularly vulnerable in these difficult circumstances.
“I continue to be deeply shocked by the gross human rights violations
committed by ISIL and associated armed groups. The targeting of
civilians based on their faith or ethnicity is utterly despicable and we
must not spare any effort to ensure accountability for these crimes,”
said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who
once again called on Iraq to join the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court or to accept the exercise of its jurisdiction with
respect to the current situation facing the country.