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Latest Press Briefing: Iraq / discrimination and violence

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 4 December 2015
Subjects: Iraq

We are concerned at reports of increasing human rights violations and abuses committed against Sunni Arab communities in parts of Iraq that have been reclaimed from ISIL.

Reports indicate that Iraqi security forces, Kurdish security forces and their respective affiliated militias have been responsible for looting and destruction of property belonging to the Sunni Arab communities, forced evictions, abductions, illegal detention and, in some cases, extra-judicial killings.

Sunni Arab communities have also faced increasing discrimination, harassment and violence from other ethnic and religious groups who accuse them of supporting ISIL.

We have received reports as well about their limited access to basic services and essential goods, such as water, food, shelter and medical care.

We are particularly concerned about the situation of some 1,300 Sunni Arab Iraqis stuck near Sinjar in the no-man's-land between Kurdish security forces and ISIL.

Meanwhile, gross human rights violations continue to be documented in ISIL-controlled areas. Individuals suspected of disloyalty or of not conforming to the ideology of the group continue to be targeted, and there are reports of kidnappings and the burning and beheading of civilians. We have received reports that some 16 mass graves containing the bodies of individuals murdered by ISIL have been discovered in Sinjar.

We urge the Government of Iraq to investigate all human rights violations and abuses, including those committed against the Arab Sunni communities, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.

We also call upon the Iraqi authorities to ensure that the return of internally displaced people to their places of origin is carried out in accordance with humanitarian principles i.e. voluntarily, in dignity and safety without coercion or harassment of any kind, and that they are guaranteed access to essential services such as shelter, water, food, sanitation, and health services.


For more information or media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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