[size=36]/ Mawazine News / publishes the annual report of Human Rights on Iraq[/size]
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, Human Rights Watch released, on Thursday, its annual report on Iraq.
Below is the text of the report:
The security forces confronted the demonstrations in Baghdad and cities in southern Iraq in October and November with excessive force, killing hundreds of demonstrators. Other violations of freedom of assembly and expression, women's rights, the right to water, health, and a healthy environment continued, and the government continued to use the death penalty on a large scale.
As a result of the protests, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi resigned from his post on November 29.
Excessive force against demonstrators
Clashes with security forces killed at least 350 protesters in demonstrations in Baghdad and southern cities in Iraq between early October and December. In addition to live ammunition, security forces in Baghdad fired tear gas canisters, in some cases, directly at the demonstrators, killing at least 16 people. Security forces also used live ammunition in other cities.
The authorities arbitrarily arrested demonstrators and subsequently released them without charge, and others were missing. Security forces arrested some Iraqis simply for expressing support for the protest movement through Facebook posts.
Security forces threatened paramedics who were treating protesters and shot them.
The government has repeatedly slowed the Internet to prevent people from downloading and sharing photos and videos of demonstrations, and has blocked messaging apps.
Justice in ISIS's worst violations
During 2019, ISIS continued to carry out attacks, most of which were killings targeting local leaders and security forces. Some of the brutal crimes committed by ISIS since 2014 are war crimes under international law, and may amount to crimes against humanity or genocide. Iraq has not adopted any legislation that makes war crimes and crimes against humanity specific crimes under Iraqi laws.
In accordance with a UN Security Council resolution in 2017, a team was created to document serious crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq. In 2019, the investigative team (known as UNITAD) assisted the Iraqi authorities in identifying at least 14 mass graves that were left by ISIS in Sinjar, as a first step toward collecting evidence and instituting cases against ISIS suspects.
A 2009 Iraqi law created committees to compensate Iraqis affected by terrorism, military operations, and military errors. Compensation committees in areas under ISIS control have received thousands of compensation requests, but have not paid many compensation since 2014.
German judicial authorities continued their efforts to investigate ISIS crimes in Syria and Iraq under universal jurisdiction, a principle in international law.
Member states of the International Coalition to Defeat ISIS continued their discussions on accountability options for ISIS crimes, including the possibility of establishing a criminal court in the region.
Arbitrary detention, due process, and fair trial violations
Iraqi forces arbitrarily arrested people suspected of belonging to ISIS, and detained several of them for several months. According to witnesses and relatives, the security forces regularly detained the suspects without any court order or arrest warrant, and often gave no reason for the arrest.
The authorities have systematically violated the fair trial rights of ISIS and other detainees. Violated rights included guarantees under Iraqi law that detainees appear before a judge within 24 hours, that they have access to a lawyer for the duration of the investigations, that their families are informed and have access to them.
The Anti-Terror Court in the Nineveh Governorate is an exception, as Human Rights Watch noticed improvements in trial procedures in 2019. Judges in the court demanded higher evidentiary standards for arresting and prosecuting suspects, reducing the court's limited reliance on confessions, wrong wanted lists, and allegations Not supported by facts.
Authorities have prosecuted children as young as nine years old for belonging to ISIS in areas under Baghdad's control and 11 years in the Kurdistan region, which is below the minimum age for criminal responsibility under international law, in violation of international standards that consider children recruited by armed groups primarily as victims to be Rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Iraqi judges have prosecuted persons suspected of being ISIS, on charges of belonging to the organization, under the broad anti-terrorist laws. Generally, the trials were hasty, based on the defendants' confessions, and did not involve the victims. The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government have conducted thousands of trials of ISIS suspects without a strategy to prioritize the worst violations.
The Iraqi government, despite requests it has received, has not disclosed the legally authorized security and military institutions to detain people, and in any facilities they are holding.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Throughout 2019, Human Rights Watch received reports of widespread use of torture, including by children, by Iraqi and KRG forces to extract confessions. A man was forced to undergo amputation due to arterial damage caused by torture in detention.
A study by Human Rights Watch of Iraqi Court of Cassation decisions in terrorism-related cases showed that judges ignored allegations of torture or relied on apparently unconfirmed confessions in nearly 20 cases in 2018 and 2019. Some allegations of torture were corroborated by forensic examinations, and some confessions appear to have been extracted by force. In each of these cases, the courts of first instance took the allegations of torture seriously, found them credible, evaluated evidence, and released the accused. However, on appeal, the Federal Court of Cassation appears to ignore allegations of torture or rely on unconfirmed confessions, and order a retrial.
Despite much evidence of torture while in detention in Iraq, the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria in 2019 transferred at least 900 Iraqi detainees with alleged ties to ISIS. The US-led coalition forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces also transferred at least 47 foreign non-Iraqi males suspected of belonging to ISIS for interrogation in 2018 and early 2019, including at least 11 French citizens who were sentenced to death. In at least 30 of these cases, US forces have facilitated the transfer of detainees from the SDF to Iraqi authorities in accordance with court documents, defendants' testimonies, and other sources.
Two French citizens who were transferred from northeastern Syria to Iraq and tried in Baghdad for belonging to ISIS told the judge that Iraqi security forces had tortured them or extracted their confessions by force.
The authorities detained the suspects in crowded places, and in some cases, in inhumane conditions. A source in the prison system provided Human Rights Watch with pictures of overcrowded prison cells in Nineveh where women and children are being held on charges of belonging to ISIS in degrading conditions that amount to ill-treatment.
Despite the commitments of then Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in September 2017 to investigate allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings, it appears that the authorities took no action in 2019 to investigate these violations.
Iraqi families believed to belong to ISIS, usually because of their family name, tribal affiliation, or birthplace, are often denied the necessary security clearances to obtain identification cards and other civil documents. This has restricted their freedom of movement, their right to education, work, care, and birth and death certificates necessary to obtain inheritance or remarry. The denial of security clearances also prevented these families from filing cases with the committees established in 2009 to compensate Iraqis affected by terrorism, military operations and military mistakes, and from filing lawsuits or challenging the confiscation of property by security forces or local families.
Some families were able to obtain a security permit if they were willing to appear before a judge first to institute a criminal case against their relative suspected of joining ISIS, in a process known as "Tiberias." After individuals open a criminal complaint, the court issues a document for them to submit to the security forces for a security clearance. This mechanism was particularly effective in Anbar Governorate, where most families with suspected ISIS relatives whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in 2019 were able to obtain security clearance through Tiberias.
Forced returns continued and prevented IDPs from returning to their homes during 2019. In early July, security forces launched “security checks” campaigns in IDP camps in Nineveh to identify their origins and potential ties to ISIS. During the next two months, authorities in Nineveh and Salah al-Din expelled hundreds of IDPs residing in camps outside their original governorates, and in some cases transferred them to their communities of origin despite families' significant security concerns.
At least 30,000 Iraqis who fled Iraq between 2014 and 2017 have been housed in and around Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria, some of whom have followed ISIS while withdrawing from Iraqi territory. In 2019, the Iraqi government prepared to return its citizens and imprison them in camps, de facto detention, for their alleged links to ISIS. The government has discussed wider plans to detain families seen as related to the organization in a mass detention plan, but no such plan has yet been agreed upon.
In 2019, thousands of children without civil documents because of a relative's joining ISIS were prevented from attending government schools, including schools, in camps for the displaced.
Lawyers and aid workers who provide assistance to families seen as related to ISIS have reported that security forces have threatened and detained them in some cases for providing these services.
Access to water
Over the past 30 years or so, the authorities have not provided safe drinking water for people in southern Iraq, especially in Basra. The multiple government failures since the 1980s, including poor water supply management, inadequate management of pollution and sanitation, and chronic neglect and poor water infrastructure management, have caused the quality of waterways to deteriorate. The water shortage caused farmers to irrigate their lands with polluted and salty water, which led to soil degradation and the killing of crops and livestock.
The deterioration of water sources in Basra turned into an acute water crisis in the summer of 2018, when at least 118,000 people were hospitalized due to symptoms that doctors said were linked to the quality of the water. The health crisis did not recur in 2019 due to the high rate of rainfall and melting snow in late 2018 / early 2019, but the authorities did not take any steps to address the causes of the health crisis. The authorities have not announced any investigation into their specific causes or any action plan to deal with the root causes of the crisis. This lack of action is of particular concern given the expected increases in consumption and reduced precipitation due to climate change.
Women's rights, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ethics laws
Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented an ISIS campaign of systematic rape, sexual slavery, and forced marriage against Yazidi women and girls between 2014 and 2017. However, no ISIS member has been prosecuted or convicted of these specific crimes.
While the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has a 2011 law on family violence, women have little protection from domestic violence in the lands of Baghdad. Efforts in parliament to pass a bill to combat domestic violence have been stalled throughout 2019. The Iraqi criminal law applied to the territories of Baghdad and the Kurdistan region of Iraq criminalizes physical assault, but it does not contain any clear indication of domestic violence. Instead, Article 41 (1) of the Penal Code states that a husband may “discipline his wife and discipline fathers (...) minor children within the limits of what is prescribed by Sharia, law, or custom,” and the Penal Code also provides for reduced penalties for actions Violence, including murder, for the so-called "honorable motives" or if a person finds his wife or cousin practicing adultery / sex outside marriage.
Although the law criminalizes sexual assault, Article 398 states that these charges will be dropped if the aggressor marries the victim. While no recent national studies on domestic violence have been conducted, women's rights organizations report a high rate.
The Iraqi Penal Code does not prohibit same-sex relations, even though Article 394 criminalizes extra-marital sex. Paragraph 401 of the Penal Code provides for the imprisonment of "a person who publicly commits an act of shame" for a period not exceeding six months, which is a vague provision that can be used to target sexual and gender minorities, although such cases have not been documented.
The death penalty
Iraq has long had one of the highest death rates in the world, along with China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The judiciary continued to pass death sentences on many of those convicted of belonging to ISIS under the anti-terrorism law, and carried out executions without revealing the official figures. In August 2019, the authorities published Ministry of Justice data that showed 8,022 detainees were awaiting execution, and the country executed more than 100 people between January and August 2019.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government has effectively suspended the death penalty. In 2008, it was prohibited "except in rare cases deemed necessary," according to a spokesman for the territorial government.
The Iraqi Penal Code prohibits the death penalty against children.
Major International Parties
The US-led coalition against ISIS, which includes Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, as well as Iranian and Turkish forces, continued to support Iraqi and KRG forces in military operations against ISIS. The coalition countries rarely published details of their aid or recipients accurately in 2019.
Turkey has intensified its operations in northern Iraq against the PKK. The party, a banned armed group operating in Turkey, has long maintained its presence in northern Iraq near the Turkish, Iranian and Syrian borders. Turkey targeted the party with air strikes after the killing of a Turkish diplomat in Erbil by unknown gunmen in July 2019. Following the killing, the Kurdistan Regional Government imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Turkish residents in a camp on its territory who are considered sympathetic to the PKK in general.