martedì, luglio 18, 2017


Camp opened for ISIS families in Iraq amounts to collective punishment, rights

By Rudaw
July 13, 2017

The first "rehabilitation camp" for families of alleged ISIS members opened in Iraq this week. A human rights monitor said the camp “violates the laws of war.”
According to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday, the first rehabilitation camp for so-called “ISIS families” opened on July 9 in Bartella, 14 kilometers east of Mosul, where Iraqi security forces have already forcibly relocated at least 170 families.
“Iraqi authorities shouldn’t punish entire families because of their relatives’ actions,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “These abusive acts are war crimes and are sabotaging efforts to promote reconciliation in areas retaken from ISIS.”
On June 19, the Mosul District Council issued a directive ordering the establishment of special camps that ISIS families were to be sent to in order to “receive psychological and ideological rehabilitation.”
The goal is to reintegrate these families back into society once camp authorities confirm they have responded to rehabilitation efforts.
Bartella camp is managed by local authorities but receives funding from the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration.
HRW visited Bartella camp on July 11 and stated that the residents being held there were mostly women and children from west Mosul as well as the Tel Afar area.
Residents of the camp complained of being held against their will and that they had not been accused of any wrongdoing themselves. The accusations against them were that they had relatives linked to ISIS. They had no idea when they would be allowed to leave.
HRW reported that the camp had a mobile medical clinic, but very limited humanitarian services or resources. They also stated that the camp was lacking any education, training, or other programs to “rehabilitate” camp residents.
Medical workers at the camp said that at least 10 women and children had died either en route to the camp or after arrival, mostly due to dehydration.
The rights group observed that despite the fact that the majority of the camp residents were women and children unaccompanied by male relatives, the Mosul emergency police unit securing the camp lacked any female police officers, raising concerns of vulnerability to gender-based violence.
Camp officials also said that there were at least 20 children under the age of 12 who were unaccompanied by adult family members.
Nineveh province officials told HRW that the camp was the first of many that authorities intended to construct and was established to house at least 2,800 families. Officials were already in the process of bringing in ISIS families from other camps and areas for screening.
A special committee for screening residents has been established and if it is confirmed that residents do not have any relatives linked to ISIS, they would be released immediately. Officials noted that some families were already released within the first two days of the camp opening.
HRW had previously reported the displacement of some so-called ISIS families due to forced evictions carried out by tribal authorities in some villages, many of whom had also been the target of threats or attacks by local residents. Iraqi security and military forces have done little to stop the abuses and in some cases, participated in them.
In Qayyara last month, Rudaw reported on local residents taking matters into their own hands to expel alleged ISIS members from their neighbourhoods with local officials supporting the victims’ demands.
The UN has warned against “collective punishment,” saying it is a contravention of the Iraqi constitution and international human rights law.
“International law requires that punishment for crimes only be imposed on people responsible for the crimes, after a fair trial to determine individual guilt. Imposing collective punishments on families, villages, or communities violates the laws of war and amounts to a war crime,” HRW stated.
HRW stressed the importance of reconciliation within communities which should be supported by local and government authorities to welcome individuals back into their homes.
If authorities cannot ensure the safety of families due to threats of revenge attacks, these families should have the freedom to relocate to camps or other areas where authorities can provide adequate protection.
“The camps for so-called ISIS families have nothing to do with rehabilitation and are instead de facto detention centers for adults and children who have not been accused of any wrongdoing,” Fakih said. “These families should be freely permitted to go where they can live safely.” 

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