The United Nations Organization has just published an alarming report on the blatant human rights abuses and “acts of violence of an increasingly sectarian nature” committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) over a period of nine weeks.
The document also cites a number of violations committed by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and associated forces battling ISIL.
Produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the “terrifying report” as it was described by Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov, listed an array of serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross abuses of human rights that have been perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups, “with an apparent systematic and widespread character.”
These include “attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children, destruction or desecration of places of religious or cultural significance, wanton destruction and looting of property, and denial of fundamental freedoms,” according to the report.
“Members of Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious communities, including Turkmen, Shabak, Christians, Yezidi, Sabaeans, Kaka’e, Faili Kurds, Arab Shi’a, and others have particularly been affected by the situation,” says the report, underlining that ISIL and its associates “intentionally and systematically targeted these communities for gross human rights abuses, at times aimed at destroying, suppressing or cleansing them from areas under their control.”
They also murdered captured soldiers and other security forces or government personnel, according to the report.
Despite the horrific nature of the report, hundreds of allegations concerning the killing of civilians were not included because they had not yet been sufficiently verified.
The report also documented violations by ISF and affiliated armed groups, such as air strikes and shelling, as well as military operations and attacks that may have violated principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law.
The report meant to draw the international community’s attention to the barbaric crimes committed in ISIL controlled areas, also urges Iraqi leaders to take action “to restore control” over these territories.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein strongly recommended that the Government of Iraq considers acceding to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and, as an immediate step, accepts the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction with respect to the current specific, horrendous situation facing the country.
“This type of situation, where massive gross violations and abuses are taking place, including direct targeting of many thousands of civilians because of their religious or ethnic identity, is precisely why the International Criminal Court was created,” Mr. Zeid noted.
On October 1, the UNAMI reported that least 1,119 Iraqis – most of them civilians – were killed in September, but cautioned that the figure should be considered an “absolute minimum,” since it does not include people killed in the ongoing operation in Anbar, or those who died from the heat or hunger after being forced to flee violence in their cities. Envies
An additional 1,604 Iraq civilians were injured in acts of terrorism and violence during the month, according to UNAMI.