The human rights situation in Iraq remains dire. Iraqi civilians face threats not only from the upsurge in violence as government forces, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other armed groups battle for territory, but also from a systemic pattern of abuse at the hands of the Iraqi central government.
Over 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes since January 2014 and hundreds of thousands remain in urgent need of assistance. Evidence uncovered by Amnesty International indicates that members of ISIS are undertaking a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities. Amnesty International has also documented torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by hundred and possibly thousands of women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by ISIS. Many were forcibly married, sold or given as gifts to fighters or their supporters.
In early September 2014, US President Obama announced plans to combat ISIS. US military air strikes targeting ISIS started weeks earlier. Canada has contributed both on-the-ground military advisors and Canadian planes as part of the airstrikes.
Without firm rules in place, it would be reckless for the US, Canada and/or others to provide military aid to any party in the conflict. ISIS has committed serious war crimes, but other militias supported by the Iraqi government have also attacked civilian populations in revenge and the Iraqi military itself has shelled residential communities.
All states involved must also make a public commitment that any US airstrikes will be directed at bona fide military targets, with all reasonable precautions taken to prevent civilian death or injury.
Read our latest press releases and reports
(23 December 2014) Iraq: Yezidi women and girls face harrowing sexual violence
Follow our Senior crisis response advisor, Donatella Rovera, as she reports on the crisis from within Iraq
(3 November 2014) Stoking the fire of Iraq’s sectarian conflict
(September 12, 2013) Revenge attacks and killing sprees in Samaara
(September 8, 2014) Don't they know that winter is coming?
(August 20, 2014) Escape from Sinjar Mountain, but what next?
(August 18, 2014) Testimonies from Kocho: The village ISIS tried to wipe off the map
(August 5, 2014) Iraqis displaced by ISIS attacks in Sinjar ‘desperate’ for aid
(July 14, 2014) Iraq: Evidence of spiralling sectarian killings and abductions (Amnesty report: "Civilians living in the line of fire")
(July 7, 2014) The plight of Iraq's civilian population
(July 2, 2014) War crimes in the battle for Mosul