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Iraq

    August 03, 2018

    By Tamara Moussa Beirut, Lebanon.

    On December 10, 2017, Iraq declared its victory over the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), which had been attempting to establish a so-called Islamic Caliphate in the country since late June 2014. In what we can begin to call post-IS Iraq, thousands upon thousands of civilians bear scars from crimes the armed group committed against them and their loved ones. The legacy of these crimes is likely to affect, not only the survivors, but generations to come.

    IS wreaked havoc on the civilian population in Iraq, at times brutally targeting ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq. Four years on, Yezidi women and girls are left with harrowing physical and psychological trauma as a result of horrifying sexual violence and enslavement by the armed group, even as they continue to live with the angst of not knowing the fate and whereabouts of their relatives who went missing as a result of IS actions.

    July 19, 2018

    Peaceful protesters in southern Iraq and Baghdad fear authorities are deliberately disabling internet access before security forces attack and open fire on them, Amnesty International has learned.

    Trusted sources told the organization they believe internet access is being cut off to prevent them sharing footage and pictures of the excessive and unnecessary force used by security forces, including the use of live ammunition, in cities in the southern governorates of the country, especially Basra.

    “We are closely monitoring the escalating situation across southern Iraq and are extremely worried by reports that security forces are beating, arbitrarily detaining and even opening fire on peaceful protesters,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    April 17, 2018
    Report reveals collective punishment of women and children for being related, however distantly, to men linked to IS or fleeing IS strongholds Women and children in camps across Iraq deprived of food, water and other essentials and prevented from returning home Women subjected to rape and sexual exploitation

    Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) are being denied humanitarian aid and prevented from returning to their homes, with an alarming number of women subjected to sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

    March 28, 2018

    Responding to eyewitness accounts of journalists and demonstrators being subjected to physical and verbal attacks by security forces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where there have been widespread anti-austerity protests since Sunday, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “Eyewitnesses we’ve interviewed, including a teacher and a journalist, have described scenes of chaos in Erbil and Dohuk as Kurdish security forces and armed individuals in civilian clothes used violence to disperse peaceful protests.

    “Peaceful demonstrators have been beaten up and insulted. Journalists using cameras or mobile phones to document the protests have been attacked. This is totally unacceptable and a blatant attempt to clamp down on dissent.

    “The Kurdish authorities must immediately put an end to the beating, harassment and intimidation of demonstrators and journalists. They have a duty to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to peaceful protest without interference.”

    Background

    March 21, 2018

    Responding to an Associated Press report that Iraqi authorities have detained or imprisoned at least 19,000 people accused of links to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) or other terror-related offences, and sentenced more than 3,000 of them to death, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “We are deeply alarmed by this report and the Iraqi authorities’ mass use of the death penalty and the courts’ reliance on torture-tainted “confessions” to secure convictions.

    “Amnesty International has documented the flawed screening process by Iraqi forces to which men and boys fleeing areas of conflict have been subjected. Thousands of them have been arbitrarily arrested, forcibly disappeared, and routinely subjected to torture and horrific conditions in detention. It is vital therefore that all those detained are held in officially recognized and supervised detention facilities.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    December 20, 2017

    Responding to reports made by the Associated Press that between 9000 to 11000 civilians have been killed in the battle for Mosul, Lynn Maalouf, Head of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle East said:

    “We are horrified, but not surprised, by these new figures. These numbers are directly in line with our previous findings that thousands of civilians were killed during the battle for Mosul - and that these deaths were caused not only by the so-called Islamic State group, but also by Iraqi and coalition forces. The AP’s estimate is more than ten times the figures reported by coalition forces, who have claimed responsibility for only 326 deaths. 

    “The failure of Iraqi and coalition forces to acknowledge and investigate civilian deaths in Mosul is a blatant abdication of responsibility. We are demanding transparency and an honest public account of the true cost to civilians from this war, as well as an immediate investigation by US-led coalition and Iraqi forces into the violations and unlawful attacks documented by Amnesty International and other independent groups during the battle for Mosul.

    December 15, 2017

    Responding to news that 38 people were executed in Iraq today for “terrorism” offences, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:

    “By carrying out yet another mass execution, the second in the span of three months, the Iraqi authorities have once again displayed a blatant disregard for human life and dignity.

    “In the wake of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration of victory over the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) on 10 December, it is disheartening to see this week’s celebrations tainted with yet another mass execution. The victims of IS deserve justice, not mass executions carried out after deeply flawed and hasty trials.

    “Individuals who carry out deadly attacks against the civilian population should face justice, but carrying out executions is not the answer. There is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more than a term of imprisonment.

    “The death penalty should not be used in any circumstances and especially in Iraq, where the government has a shameful record of putting people to death after deeply unfair trials and in many cases after being tortured to ‘confess’.”

    September 25, 2017

    Responding to the news that at least 42 people were executed in Iraq today on “terrorism” charges, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s mass execution is a shocking display of the Iraqi authorities’ resort to the death penalty to try to show they are responding to security threats.

    “There can be no doubt that individuals who carry out deadly attacks against the civilian population should face justice, but the Iraqi authorities need to recognize that carrying out executions is not the answer and will not make the country or its people safer.

    “The Iraqi authorities have a deplorable track record when it comes to use of the death penalty. In many cases previously people have been put to death after deeply unfair trials and in some cases after being tortured to ‘confess’.

    “The death penalty is an irreversible and reprehensible punishment that should not be used in any circumstances and there is no evidence to show that it deters crime more than any other means of punishment.”

     

    September 21, 2017

    The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution passed today aimed at holding the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) accountable for war crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq falls short of what is needed to stamp out a dangerous culture of impunity and could fuel further abuses, said Amnesty International.

    The unanimously adopted resolution, tabled by the United Kingdom, establishes an "Investigative Team" of experts to support the Iraqi government in collecting, preserving and analyzing evidence of serious crimes. However, the resolution crucially fails to include any provisions to ensure accountability for crimes committed by Iraqi forces and others responsible for grave violations of international law, including war crimes, during the conflict.

    “Initiatives that can help ensure justice for victims of atrocities by IS members in Iraq are of course welcome news. But, this flawed resolution sends a dangerous message to all the other parties to the conflict who have also committed serious violations and crimes that they are above justice,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of the UN Office in New York for Amnesty International.

    July 12, 2017
      Responding to statements made by spokespeople for the US-led coalition and the Iraqi forces, Lynn Maalouf Head of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East said:   “We are disappointed by the dismissiveness with which the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces have treated our report depicting the immense civilian suffering in west Mosul.   “At the bare minimum, governments who are part of the coalition as well as Iraqi forces must ensure a prompt, impartial investigation into the alleged violations we have documented.   “We hope to see an immediate public acknowledgement of the immense cost to civilians that this battle has caused as well as a transparent response from the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces to the violations and attacks documented by Amnesty International in its report on the west Mosul operation.   “Even wars have laws and there must be accountability when these are violated..  
    July 11, 2017

    Iraq: Battle between US-led coalition, Iraqi forces and Islamic State creates civilian catastrophe in west Mosul

    June 08, 2017

    (Beirut, June 8, 2017) – The expected battle involving Iraqi and US-led coalition forces against the Islamic State (ISIS) in west Mosul’s Old City poses a considerable threat to civilians and civilian objects, international humanitarian and human rights organizations said today. All warring parties should cease using explosive weapons with wide area effects and inherently indiscriminate weapons in densely populated west Mosul. ISIS’s unlawful use of civilians as “human shields” and the difficulty of identifying civilians in buildings increases the risk of civilian casualties.

    The United Nations has estimated that 200,000 civilians remain in the two-square-kilometer area in west Mosul’s Old City, which Iraqi and US-led coalition forces are encircling in preparation for the battle there.

    May 25, 2017

    As the Pentagon reports on its findings following the investigation into the US-led coalition airstrike that killed at least 100 civilians in West Mosul’s Jadida neighbourhood on 17 March 2017, Amnesty International said:

    “The attack on the Jadida neighbourhood was a tragedy that alerted the world to the horrors being inflicted upon Iraqi civilians. Entire families are being killed inside their homes, where they are stuck between ground fighting and airstrikes.

    “As the battle for Mosul draws to an end, there is no doubt that, once uncovered, the civilian death toll will raise alarm bells about the conduct of hostilities on all sides. Recent field visits to Mosul by Amnesty International have revealed that, Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition did not refrain from using explosive munitions in heavily populated areas, where civilians were being used as human shields by the group calling itself the Islamic State.

    “While we welcome the US investigation into the Jadida airstrike, we are curious to know whether any lessons were learned and what steps were taken to ensure such horrors do not occur again.

    May 24, 2017

    The US Army failed to keep tabs on more than $1 billion worth of arms and other military equipment in Iraq and Kuwait according to a now declassified Department of Defense (DoD) audit, obtained by Amnesty International following Freedom of Information requests.

    The government audit, from September 2016, reveals that the DoD “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment pouring into Kuwait and Iraq to provision the Iraqi Army.

    “This audit provides a worrying insight into the US Army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous - system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher.

    “It makes for especially sobering reading given the long history of leakage of US arms to multiple armed groups committing atrocities in Iraq, including the armed group calling itself the Islamic State.”

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