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Tuesday, April 23, 2019
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23 2015 (IPS) - At least 11,600 Iraqi civilians were killed in war and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant) terrorist attacks in 2014, and ISIL forces may be guilty of war crimes and genocide, according to an alarming United Nations report released Monday.
The ‘Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Iraq’ details the sheer devastation wrought in recent months, as Iraqi Security Forces and ISIL groups clash nationwide.
At least 33,368 civilian casualties were recorded in 2014, including 11,602 dead and 21,766 wounded, while two million people were displaced within Iraq.
The report, published by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), says the true figures would actually be much higher than listed.
“Owing to increasing limitations… to verify reports of civilian casualties, the figures cited should be regarded as absolute minimums,” the report states.
“The number of civilians who have died from the secondary effects of violence, such as lack of access to basic food, water or medicine, after fleeing their homes or who remained trapped in areas under ISIL control or in areas of conflict, remains unknown.”
The report continues to state that “Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious communities, including Turkmen, Shabaks, Christians, Yezidi, Shi’ite Arab and others” have been the particular targets of ISIL attacks.
These groups have reportedly been “subjected to gross human rights abuses,” as part of a “deliberate policy aimed at destroying, suppressing or expelling” such communities.
“UNAMI/OHCHR notes that many of the violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide,” the report claims.
At least 165 executions by ISIL courts were recorded in recent months, while other court-enforced punishments included lashings for drinking alcohol, and amputation of hands for stealing.
“ISIL has systematically carried out executions, targeted killings and enforced disappearances of community, political, and religious leaders, as well as journalists, doctors and other professionals… Female community and political leaders have been particularly targeted.”
ISIL has also been accused of targeting civilians or carrying out attacks “heedless of their effects on civilians,” as well as housing fighters among civilian populations “so as to shield its fighters from attack or to ensure civilian casualties in the event of attack.”
The report also accuses Iraqi Security Forces of similar crimes and violations, including abduction of civilians, targeted killings of ISIL fighters, and mistreatment of Sunnis in areas liberated from ISIL control.
“These include failures to abide by the principles of distinction and proportionality required by international humanitarian law in the conduct of military operations, in which case may amount to war crimes,” the report states.
UNAMI and OHCHR recommend the U.N. Security Council and Human Rights Council “closely follow the situation with a view to ensuring the perpetrators… are held accountable.”
The two bodies also urge the Iraqi government to investigate and prosecute anyone involved in breaches of human rights or international law, and implement reforms aimed to encourage reconciliation.
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