Iraq Human Rights

Human Rights Concerns

The human rights situation in Iraq remains dire. Iraqi civilians face threats not only from the upsurge in violence as government forces, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and other armed groups battle for territory, but also from a systemic pattern of abuse at the hands of the Iraqi central government.

As the fighting continues, protection of civilians must be of paramount concern. An estimated 500,000 people were forced to flee their homes as Mosul fell, adding to the nearly half a million Iraqis displaced and over 5,5000 civilian deaths since ISIS' expulsion of Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, Anbar governorate, in January 2014. Iraqi forces have indiscriminately shelled Fallujah, including on hospitals and in residential areas. ISIS has claimed responsibility for car bomb blasts in other parts of Iraq as retaliation for the government attacks. Now, Amnesty International has gathered evidence pointing to a pattern of extrajudicial executions of detainees by government forces and Shi'a militias in the Iraqi cities of Tal ‘Afar, Mosul and Ba'quba. Read more.

A consistent pattern of human rights violations by the Iraqi government has widely been seen as a significant factor in the widespread popular discontent. Thousands of detainees languish in prison without charge. Detainees are routinely held "incommunicado", without access to family or legal counsel. Torture and ill-treatment occurs regularly and with impunity in prisons and detention centers. Many of those brought to trial are sentenced to long prison terms or to death after grossly unfair proceedings, in which convictions are based on "confessions" extracted under torture or other coercion. Such "confessions" are often broadcast on national television before trials have taken place. Watch Video: Iraq's Lethal Confession Culture.

Iraq is the world's third most prolific executioner, with hundreds of prisoners on death row and at least 169 executions in 2013. The surge in executions has continued in 2014.

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Iraq Human Rights Updates
This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the worl...
Press Release
The Iraqi authorities’ failure to protect Sunni civilians from a wave of reprisal attacks by Shi’a militia last month is another example of widespread impunity for what are clearly war crimes, said Am...

Peshmerga forces from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kurdish militias in northern Iraq have bulldozed, blown up and burned down thousands of homes in an apparent effort to uproot Arab...

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