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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Iraq, Turkey and Kenya

Press briefing: Iraq, Turkey, Kenya

28 October 2016

Spokespeople for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date:  28 October 2016
(1) Iraq, (2) Turkey and (3) Kenya

(1) Iraq

Credible reports suggest that ISIL has been forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in sub-districts around Mosul and has been forcibly relocating civilians inside the city itself since operations began on 17 October to restore Iraqi Government control over Mosul. ISIL fighters are allegedly killing civilians who refuse to comply with ISIL’s instructions or who previously belonged to the Iraqi Security Forces, including 232 civilians who were shot to death last Wednesday.

At least 5,370 families were abducted by ISIL from Shura sub-district, another 160 families from al-Qayyarah sub-district, 150 families from Hamam al-Alil sub-district and 2,210 families from Nimrud sub-district of al-Hamdaniya district, reports indicate.

Forced out by gunpoint, or killed if they resist, these people are reportedly being moved to strategic locations were ISIL fighters are located. Information received indicates that 60,000 persons are currently residing in Hamam al-Alil, an ISIL stronghold with a previous population of 23,000.

Of the 232 civilians reportedly shot to death on Wednesday, 190 were former ISF personnel. They were killed at the al-Ghazlani military base in Mosul. It appears that a day earlier many of these men and their families had been forced by ISIL from Shura and al-Qayyarah sub-districts, and were initially taken to Hamam al-Alil, where the men were separated from the women and children. The other 42 civilians were reportedly shot in the head at the al-Izza military base after they refused to join ISIL.
The use of human shields is prohibited under international humanitarian law, and constitutes a violation of the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life.

A press release with more details will follow shortly.

(2) Turkey

We are very concerned about the arrests  on Tuesday of Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, the co-mayors of the city of Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey on terrorism-related charges. Ms Kisanak and Mr Anli’s arrests are the latest in a series of arrests affecting democratically elected representatives over the past few months in eastern and southeastern Turkey. Dozens have reportedly been suspended from public office and many detained.   

We are also concerned about other professional groups, including civil servants, who have been affected by measures taken under the state of emergency. In the absence of access, the UN Human Rights Office continues to observe the situation remotely and we will be providing more updates.   

We remind the Turkish authorities that even during a state of emergency, the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity, due process guarantees and the presumption of innocence – fundamental requirements for a fair trial – must be respected. We call on the Government to ensure full respect for human rights and maximum transparency in the administration of justice.

(3) Kenya

We welcome the decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta this week to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment, removing 2,747 convicts from death row, including 2,655 men and 92 women.

Article 6 (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Kenya ratified in 1972, states that anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.

We hope that Kenya will build on the momentum created by Monday’s mass commutation and work towards establishing an official moratorium on the death penalty, aiming at its full abolition for all crimes. Kenya has not implemented death penalty sentences since 1987 and it accepted recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in 2015 to establish a moratorium and work towards abolition of capital punishment.

We hope Kenya’s initiatives will inspire other States to push forward with efforts to abolish the death penalty, joining the 106 other countries that have rid themselves of this inhumane practice.

We stand ready to continue to support all efforts in this direction.


For more information and media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] ) or Liz Throssell  ( +41 22 917 9466/ [email protected] )

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