UN Human Rights Council meets to discuss situation in Iraq

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Photo: HCR/S. Baldwin

The militant group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and its associated groups are subjecting civilians in northern Iraq to widespread and unimaginable human rights violations, that may amount to war crimes, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

The violations include murder, torture, forced conversions, abductions, slavery, sexual and physical abuse and the besieging of entire communities on the basis of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation.

Addressing the Human Rights Council at the start of a special session on the situation in Iraq, UN Human Rights Deputy Chief Flavia Pansieri said the militant group had engaged in the abduction and recruitment of boys as fighters adding that some of them were used as human shields or forced to donate blood to treat wounded fighters.

She said minority groups including Christians, Yezidis and Shi'a communities face brutal persecution by the militant group in what may amount to ethnic and religious cleansing.

She said the UN Human Rights Office had also documented violations of human rights and humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes perpetrated by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and anti-militant armed groups

"It appears that ISIL has intentionally committed widespread and systematic persecution of ethnic and religious groups, depriving them of their fundamental rights, including their right to life and to freedom of religion; denying them of their identity; and compelling many to wander in fear in desolate and dangerous areas. These inhumane and odious offences constitute a serious and deliberate attack on human dignity and on human rights, likely amounting to a crime against humanity. Even though this conflict has severely reduced the Iraqi Government's control over large parts of its territory, the Government continues to bear primary responsibility for the protection of all persons on its territory, and must endeavour to implement its obligations."

A draft resolution before the council is calling on the UN Human Rights Office to dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by the militant group  with a view to ensuring full accountability.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 2.17″

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