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Press briefing note on Iraq and Cambodia

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location:   Geneva
Date: 18 July 2014
Subject:   1) Iraq and  2) Cambodia

1) Iraq

A UN report released today documents a litany of serious human rights violations committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated armed groups between 5 June and 5 July, including some that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report also documents violations committed by Iraqi security forces (ISF) and associated forces.

The report, compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Human Rights office, is based on direct monitoring activities as well as a variety of sources, including civilian victims and witnesses. It documents the “untold hardship and suffering” that has been imposed upon the civilian population, “with large-scale killings, injuries and destruction and damage of livelihoods and property.” Where information has been cross-checked and verified, specific incidents are detailed in the report.

“ISIL and associated armed groups have carried out many of these attacks in a systematic manner heedless of the impact on civilians, or have systematically targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure with the intention of killing and wounding as many civilians as possible,” the report states. “Targets have included markets, restaurants, shops, cafes, playgrounds, schools, places of worship and other public spaces where civilians gather in large numbers.”
A press release on the key findings of the report is available here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14884&LangID=E

The full report can also be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/IQ/UNAMI_OHCHR_POC%20Report_FINAL_18July2014A.pdf

2) Cambodia

We are deeply concerned about the violent clashes that erupted last Tuesday (July 15) at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh between district security guards and opposition supporters, during which dozens of people were injured. Members of the main opposition party had gathered there to protest against the barricading of the only designated area for public demonstrations in the capital.

We are particularly alarmed at the ongoing arrests of leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party following the violence. We are concerned about the very serious charges which were brought against them, including "insurrection", given the widely observed efforts by opposition leaders to calm the protesters and stop the violence during the clashes. Any politically motivated charges must be dropped immediately.

We call upon the judicial authorities to strictly abide by human rights standards in the pursuit of these cases, recalling the seriously flawed processes surrounding other recent cases.

We also urge the Cambodian authorities to launch a prompt, effective, impartial and transparent investigation and to ensure those responsible for these violent incidents are held accountable.

We also call upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to resume negotiations in order to end the political deadlock. All restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be lifted immediately and these rights must be exercised peacefully by all.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org), Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9769 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org )

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