UN Documents Human Rights Violations

The report also documents violations committed by the ISF and affiliated forces, including summary executions or extrajudicial killings of prisoners and detainees, which may also amount to war crimes.  The report casts doubt over adherence by the ISF and affiliated forces to the principle of distinction and proportionality and whether they undertook the necessary precautions to protect civilians during the conduct of hostilities.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, deplored the heavy toll the conflict is taking on Iraqi civilians.

"International law requires that both the Iraqi State and armed groups take all measures to minimize the impact of violence on civilians, respect the principles of distinction and proportionality when carrying out military operations, and take steps to ensure the safety and protection of civilians by enabling them to leave areas affected by violence in safety and dignity, and to access basic humanitarian assistance at all times,” he said.

“The United Nations is fully engaged with the Government of Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government and civil society organizations to provide basic humanitarian assistance to all civilians who have been displaced or who remain in areas affected by violence."

The report also notes that children have been disproportionately affected by the conflict.

“In all conflict-affected areas, child casualties due to indiscriminate or systematic attacks by armed groups and by Government shelling on populated areas have been on the rise,” it states.  “Credible information on recruitment and use of children as soldiers was also received.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said she was particularly concerned about the protection and welfare of members of vulnerable groups who remain in areas affected by the armed conflict, especially women, female-headed households, children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and members of minority groups.

“Every day we receive accounts of a terrible litany of human rights violations being committed in Iraq against ordinary Iraqi children, women and men, who have been deprived of their security, their livelihoods, their homes, education, healthcare and other basic services,” she said.

“The deliberate or indiscriminate targeting of civilians, the killing of civilians, the use of civilians as shields, the hindering of access for civilians to humanitarian assistance may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.  Parties to the conflict are required by international human rights law and international humanitarian law to prevent such violations and abuses from taking place.”

Pillay also stressed the obligation of the Government of Iraq to investigate serious violations and to hold the perpetrators to account.

Mladenov reiterated his call to the Iraqi political leadership to quickly move forward with the political process.

“Now that a Speaker of Parliament has been elected, it is vital that Iraqi leaders quickly move forward on the nomination of a new President and a new Government.  An inclusive political process, cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil as well as a nationally accepted security plan are important elements in restoring the rule of law and bringing the country back from the brink of chaos,” Mladenov stressed.

The report notes that in the month of June, at least 1,531 civilians were killed in Iraq and 1,763 were wounded.  Some 1.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced as a result of the violence – including over 600,000 since the beginning of June alone.

Report on the Protection of Civilians in the Non International Armed Conflict in Iraq: 5 June – 5 July 2014

(Source: UN)

(Flag image via Shutterstock)

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