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Iraq

    November 02, 2016

    Militia fighters from the Sab’awi tribe have unlawfully detained, publicly humiliated and tortured or otherwise ill-treated men and boys in villages south-east of Mosul that were recaptured from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in recent days, said Amnesty International.

    The organization’s researchers on the ground in Iraq interviewed local officials and eyewitnesses including villagers who described how members of the Sab’awi Tribal Mobilization militia (Hashd al-‘Ashairi) carried out punitive revenge attacks. Residents suspected of having ties to IS were beaten with metal rods and given electric shocks. Some were tied to the bonnets of vehicles and paraded through the streets or placed in cages.

    “There is strong evidence that Sab’awi tribal militia members have committed crimes under international law by torturing and otherwise ill-treating residents in Qati’ al Sab’awiin in revenge for crimes committed by IS,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 28, 2016

    The use of white phosphorus around the city of Mosul could pose a deadly risk to civilians fleeing the fighting in the coming days and weeks, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization received credible witness and photographic evidence of white phosphorus projectiles exploding in the air over an area north of the village of Karemlesh, about 20 kilometres east of Mosul. White phosphorus is an incendiary substance which burns at extremely high temperatures upon exposure to air.

    “White phosphorus can cause horrific injuries, burning deep into the muscle and bone. It is possible that some of it will only partially burn and could then reignite weeks after being deployed,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

    “This means that civilians who flee the fighting around Mosul or residents returning to check on their homes in Karemlesh in the coming days or weeks would be at risk of serious harm even though there may be few visible warning signs.”

    October 27, 2016

    Military operations to retake Mosul and the surrounding areas from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are endangering civilians who are being caught in the crossfire or in some cases being used as human shields by IS fighters, said Amnesty International from northern Iraq.

    The organization’s research team met with civilians displaced from their homes in villages north of Mosul in recent days who are now in Zelikan and Khazer camps, in areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and conducted phone interviews with people still trapped under IS control, gathering fresh evidence pointing to civilian deaths and injuries during in recent days.

    “With more than a million people believed to be still trapped in Mosul and its outskirts, the risks to civilians are sky high. IS’s utter disregard for the safety of civilians and their apparently deliberate use of human shields is putting people trapped in areas of active conflict at even greater risk, as Iraqi forces advance,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional Office.

    October 17, 2016
    Paramilitary militias and government forces in Iraq have committed serious human rights violations, including war crimes, by torturing, arbitrarily detaining, forcibly disappearing and extrajudicially executing thousands of civilians who have escaped areas controlled by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International in a new report published today.   The report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces exposes the terrifying backlash against civilians fleeing IS-held territory, raising alarm about the risk of mass violations as the military operation to recapture the IS-held city of Mosul gets underway.   The report is based on interviews with more than 470 former detainees, witnesses and relatives of those killed, disappeared or detained, as well as officials, activists, humanitarian workers and others.  
    October 17, 2016

    Every effort must be made to protect civilians from the onslaught of war and potential revenge attacks in Mosul, said Amnesty International today as the operation to recapture the city from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State gets under way.

    Tomorrow, 18 October 2016, Amnesty International will launch a major new report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces which documents serious human rights violations - including war crimes committed by Iraqi militias and government forces against displaced civilians during past military operations. The report warns against a repeat of such violations on an even greater scale in the Mosul offensive.

    “Iraqi authorities must take concrete steps to ensure there is no repeat of the gross violations witnessed in Falluja and other parts of Iraq during confrontations between government forces and the Islamic State armed group,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    October 09, 2016
    Yezidi women and girls who have been enslaved, raped beaten and otherwise tortured by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are being failed by a lack of adequate support from the international community, said Amnesty International today.  Researchers from the organization interviewed 18 women and girls abducted by IS, during a visit to the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq in August 2016. The women and girls had either escaped or were released after payment of ransom by their families. Several were driven to the brink of suicide or had sisters or daughters who killed themselves because of the appalling abuse they endured in captivity. The suffering of survivors is compounded by their current destitute living conditions, their grief for relatives killed by IS and their fears for those who remain in captivity.
    September 12, 2016

    The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) must immediately end the shocking and arbitrary detention of a Yezidi woman who has been held without trial for nearly two years after surviving captivity at the hands of the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), Amnesty International said.

    Bassema Darwish, a 34-year-old mother of three from the Babira village in Ninewa Governorate, has been detained by the KRG since October 2014. She has been accused of complicity with IS forces who killed three members of the Peshmerga (KRG’s armed forces) when they arrived at the house where she was being held captive in Zummar, north-western Iraq.

    “Yezidi women abducted by IS have suffered truly harrowing abuses including rape and sexual slavery. In the case of Bassema Darwish, liberation from IS captivity did not put an end to her mistreatment. Instead of detaining her for nearly two years in violation of her rights, the authorities should ensure she receives medical and psychosocial assistance, as well as counselling, to help her overcome her ordeal in captivity,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    August 22, 2016

    The execution of 36 men in Iraq yesterday marks an alarming rise in the authorities’ use of the death penalty in response to the dramatic security threats the country is facing, said Amnesty International today.

    The men were convicted over the killing of 1,700 military cadets at Speicher military camp near Trikrit in June 2014, after a deeply-flawed mass trial which lasted only a few hours, and relied on “confessions” extracted under torture.

    “These mass executions mark a chilling increase in Iraq’s use of the death penalty,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office.

    “Time and time again, Amnesty International has emphasized that victims’ families have the right to truth and called for justice for the atrocities committed by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State. However, executing men who were forced to ‘confess’ under torture and were not given a proper chance to defend themselves is not justice.

    August 16, 2016

    Increased humanitarian assistance is urgently required to alleviate the suffering of millions of Iraqis displaced across the country and to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of people who are expected to be displaced by military operations to recapture territory controlled by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International today following a three-week research trip to the country.

    Humanitarian organizations have already been struggling to meet the most basic needs of the more than 3.4 million people who have been forced to flee IS rule and ongoing fighting to recapture IS territory. The impending battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an IS stronghold, is expected to displace hundreds of thousands more in the coming months.

    July 05, 2016

    Iraq’s execution of five prisoners is a brazen knee-jerk reaction to the abhorrent weekend Baghdad bombing and a worrying sign that the country is stepping up its use of the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    The Iraqi Ministry of Justice said that the five prisoners had been put to death on Tuesday as authorities vowed more executions would be carried out following Saturday night’s attack in Baghdad, which killed at least 213 people and injured a further 200, according to media reports.

    “The Baghdad bombing that targeted civilians in a busy shopping area is an unconscionable attack on the basic right to life and a war crime, and there can be no justification for such odious violence,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    The armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility.

    Amnesty International called for those responsible to be brought to justice in fair trials without resorting to the death penalty.

    June 08, 2016

    Iraqi authorities must rein in all forces participating in the recapture of Falluja said Amnesty International today, amid reports that men and boys fleeing the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) had been tortured and otherwise ill-treated by government-backed militias and at least three had died as a result of torture.

    Amnesty International has spoken to victims who described the torture and other ill-treatment meted out to them in detention and who claim to have witnessed killings.

    “Civilians risking their lives to escape from IS atrocities must be protected and given the humanitarian aid they desperately need. Instead it seems that some are having to run the gauntlet of being subjected to further abuse and reprisal attacks,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    May 17, 2016

    Today’s multiple bombings in Baghdad, in which media agencies have reported the deaths of at least 63 people and injuries to at least 90 others, are the latest in a horrific spike in deadly attacks that have hit the country over the past week, Amnesty International said today.

    “The spike in deadly bomb attacks across Baghdad, in predominantly Shia areas, will outrage anyone who places value on human life,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The bloody toll from these attacks, which is predominantly civilian, has been growing steadily over the past seven days.”

    “Today’s sickening attacks, carried out in daytime, in areas well known to be frequented by civilians such as busy markets, display a total disregard for the lives of civilians and the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.”

    May 05, 2016

    The daily security threats that plague the lives of Iraqi civilians must not open the door to more human rights violations, Amnesty International warned today at the end of a six-day trip to Baghdad and Erbil headed by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    Both the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government promised to investigate a string of abuses by their respective militias and security forces.

    “The atrocities committed by the Islamic State (IS) armed group do not give a free pass to Shi’a militias and Kurdish Peshmerga to go on the rampage in blatant violation of international humanitarian law,” said Salil Shetty.

    “The Iraqi authorities and their international backers should ensure human rights are not sacrificed in the fight against IS. Even during conflict there are rules that must be observed - the protection of civilians is paramount.”

    May 03, 2016

    More than 1,000 detainees, including some as young as 15, are being held without charge in horrendous conditions at makeshift holding centres in Anbar governorate, west of Baghdad, said Amnesty International today.

    A delegation led by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, gained access on 30 April to a centre run by Anbar’s counter-terrorism agency (Mukafahat al-Irhab) in Ameriyat al-Fallujah, where 683 male detainees are held without charge.

    The detainees are cramped into several rooms within a complex of disused warehouses being used as a detention and interrogation facility.

    “The detainees are squeezed into a space of less than one square metre each, sitting in a crouching position day and night, unable to stretch or lie down to sleep and are rarely allowed outside for fresh air,” said Salil Shetty.

    “It was a truly shocking sight – hundreds of human beings packed together like sardines in a tin and held in inhumane and degrading conditions for months on end.”

    February 18, 2016

    The 40 death sentences handed down today in Iraq after a fundamentally flawed mass trial shows a reckless disregard for justice and human life, said Amnesty International and brings the total sentenced in 2016 close to 100.

    Iraq’s courts have imposed at least 52 death sentences since 1 January 2016. Today a further 40 individuals were sentenced to death as the verdict of a high-profile anti-terror trial is delivered in Baghdad.

    “For Iraqi courts to hand down 92 death sentences in just six weeks is a grim indicator of the current state of justice in the country,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “The vast majority of the trials have been grossly unfair, with many of the defendants claiming to have been tortured into ‘confessing’ the crimes. These allegations must be urgently investigated and a re-trial that meets international fair trial standard should be ordered.”

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