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Press briefing note on Iraq

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:     Geneva
Date: 24 June 2014
Subject:  Iraq

The UNAMI* human rights team continues its efforts to verify the numerous alleged human rights violations that have been taking place in Iraq, since the recent advance of the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) and its local allies began in early June.

According to UNAMI, at least 757 civilians were killed and 599 injured in Nineveh, Diyala and Salah al-Din Provinces between 5 and 22 June. This figure – which should be viewed very much as a minimum – includes a number of verified summary executions and extra-judicial killings of civilians, police, and soldiers who were hors combat.

At least another 318 people were killed, and a further 590 injured during the same period in Baghdad and areas in the south, many of them as a result of at least 6 separate vehicle-borne bombs.

Abductions continue to be reported in the northern provinces and in Baghdad. These include a number of cases of foreigners, such as the 48 Turkish citizens abducted from Turkey’s consulate when ISIL captured Mosul. In addition, according to the Indian Foreign Ministry, on 18 June, around 40 Indian nationals working for an Iraqi construction company were also kidnapped.  

On a more positive note, the 16 Georgians whom we mentioned 10 days ago have been released, and a group of 44 other foreign workers of various nationalities who had been abducted by ISIL when they captured Al-Door district to the north of Tikrit were released on 19 June, with the help of local tribal leaders who assisted in negotiations between the Iraqi army (ISF) and ISIL. They arrived in Kirkuk and are reported to be in good health.

Tragically some of those who have been abducted have been subsequently found dead, and summary executions also apparently continue to take place.

ISIL have broadcast dozens of videos showing cruel treatment and beheadings and shootings of hors combat soldiers, police officers, as well as people apparently targeted because of their religion or ethnicity, including Shia and minority groups such as Turcomans, Shabak, Christians, and Yezidis.

In addition to those summary executions and extrajudicial killings we have highlighted previously, specific new examples of such killings by known or unknown perpetrators include:

  • Three civilians of the Shabak minority captured by ISIL in the Jazeer district of Mosul on 18 June. The bodies of two of them were found the following day.
  • 15 Shia civilians abducted during an attack by ISIL in a village called Pirwajli, in Tuz Khurmatu district in Salah al-Din Province, whose bodies were later reportedly found by the ISF. A further 20 civilians were reportedly killed during fighting in this and neighboring villages.
  • The bodies of 45 unidentified people reportedly found on the banks of the Tigris nearby.
  • The bodies of five unidentified men, all of whom had been shot in the back of the head, found by fishermen in a river in Southern Tikrit.
  • Four men found dead by police from gunshot wounds in the Abu Dsheer district of Baghdad on 19 June; and another two found on 21 June in Zafaraniya town, also shot in the back of the head.
  • Abductions of individuals are also being reported in Baghdad, including five men in two separate incidents in the Zayouna district of the city.


At least two summary executions of prisoners by the Iraqi army have been reported, one of which, at the al-Qalaa police station in Tal Afar, allegedly involving the killing of 31 detainees on 15 June is still not fully verified.

UNAMI human rights officers have however confirmed another reported summary execution of prisoners by ISF personnel as they withdrew from the Nineveh Operations Command in Mosul. In this case, grenades were reportedly thrown into rooms filled with detainees, killing at least ten and injuring another 14.

We urge the Iraqi authorities to swiftly carry out their obligation to thoroughly investigate these, and any other, reported summary executions and all other violations by their personnel, and to make a concerted effort to bring all perpetrators to justice.


* United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org ) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org)

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