Deadly Attacks Against Civilians Represent “Total Disregard for International Human Rights Standards” Says Human Rights Group
(New York) — Amnesty International today urged the Iraqi authorities to launch a thorough and impartial investigation into a wave of bomb attacks and shootings across Iraq on Sunday that reportedly killed at least 81 people, many of them civilians, and left scores more injured.
The attacks, which targeted Iraqi civilians as well as members of the security and armed forces in multiple cities, appear to have been coordinated. Car bomb explosions in several predominantly Shi’a areas were among the deadliest attacks.
“There is no justification for the deliberate targeting of civilians – it is abhorrent and shows a total disregard for international human rights standards as well as the basic principles of humanity,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Iraqi authorities must ensure that an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation is carried out, and that those responsible are brought to justice in proceedings that comply with the most rigorous internationally recognized standards for fair trial.”
Several bombings across southern Iraq – including in the cities of Basra and Nasiriyah and a market near the Imam Ali al-Sharqi shrine – also resulted in deaths and injuries. A car bomb near the northern city of Kirkuk appeared to have targeted people lining up to seek employment at an oil facility, and two explosions in Kirkuk itself killed three people and wounded scores more.
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The attacks occurred as an Iraqi court sentenced Iraqi vice president Tareq al-Hashemi to death after he and his son-in-law, Ahmed Qahtan, were convicted for allegedly ordering the killing of a lawyer and a Shi’a security official.
Al-Hashemi is now in Turkey, and has been in office since 2005. He denies the charges, which he claims are politically motivated.
“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment, and is a violation of the right to life. This latest sentence is part of an alarmingly widespread use of the death penalty in Iraq. We call on the authorities to commute al-Hashemi’s sentence immediately,” said Sahraoui.
In December, state-run TV channel Al-Iraqiya broadcast "confessions" by men said to be al-Hashemi’s bodyguards saying that they had killed police officers and officials from ministries in exchange for payoffs from al-Hashemi. This is in violation of fair trial standards, especially regarding the presumption of innocence.
One of the bodyguards, Amer al-Battawi, died in custody in March 2012 after being held for three months. His family reportedly claimed that his body bore signs of having been tortured.
The Iraqi authorities denied the torture allegations and said al- Battawi died of kidney failure. One of al-Hashemi's female employees is currently in detention.
Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain, who was working at the Iraqi vice president’s office, was arrested without a warrant at her parents’ house in Baghdad district on Janurary 1, 2012. The security forces claimed that they were taking her away for questioning and that she would return two hours later. Her family did not hear of her whereabouts for weeks.
A second woman, Bassima Saleem Kiryakos, was released, apparently without charge, around April 10. She was arrested after her house in Baghdad was raided by over 15 armed security men in military uniform. The men did not have an arrest warrant.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.