HRW


Iraq: Secret Detention, No Recourse

Iraqi military and security forces have disappeared dozens of mostly Sunni Arab males since 2014, including children as young as 9, often in the context of counterterrorism operations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 78-page report, “‘Life Without a Father is Meaningless’: Arbitrary Arrests and Enforced Disappearances in Iraq 2014-2017,” draws on research Human Rights Watch has published on enforced disappearances in Iraq since 2014, when Iraqi forces launched anti-ISIS operations, and documents an additional 74 cases of men and four cases of boys detained by Iraqi military and security forces between April 2014 and October 2017 and forcibly disappeared.

The enforced disappearances documented are part of a much wider continuing pattern in Iraq. Iraqi officials have failed to respond to inquiries from the families and Human Rights Watch for information about the disappeared.

“Families across Iraq whose fathers, husbands, and sons disappeared after Iraqi forces detained them are desperate to find their loved ones,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite years of searching, and requests to Iraqi authorities, the government has provided no answers about where they are or if they are even still alive.”

More here.

(Source: HRW)

Iraq: “Chilling Accounts of Torture, Deaths”

Two former detainees and the father of a man who died in detention have provided details of ill-treatment, torture, and death in facilities run by the Iraqi Interior Ministry in the Mosul area, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.

A detainee held by the ministry’s Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Office in an east Mosul prison from January to May 2018 said he witnessed and experienced repeated torture during interrogations, and saw nine men die there, at least two from the abuse.

Another man from Mosul, arrested in March by local police, died during police interrogation in the Mosul police station, his father said. And a man who was held in the Intelligence and Counter Terrorism prison in Qayyarah said he saw other men returning from interrogations with signs of abuse on their bodies.

More here.

(Source: HRW)

Video: Iraq Accused of Abusing ‘Terror Suspects’

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi National Security Service has admitted to holding hundreds of people suspected of terrorism for months.

According to Human Rights Watch, the agency has been keeping them at a facility east of Mosul – which was retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group just over a year ago.

Human rights groups say abuses of detainees are commonplace in the country.

Al Jazeera‘s Imran Khan has more from Baghdad:

Intelligence Agency Admits Holding Hundreds

By Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Iraq’s National Security Service (NSS), an Iraqi intelligence agency reporting to Iraq’s prime minister, has acknowledged for the first time that it is detaining individuals for prolonged periods of time, despite not having a clear mandate to do so, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.

NSS is holding more than 400 detainees in a detention facility in east Mosul. As of July 4, 2018, 427 men were there, some of whom had been held for more than seven months.

One person held there briefly in April described horrendous conditions, and said that detainees had no access to lawyers, family visits, or medical care. He described one prisoner dying in April after being tortured for months. Human Rights Watch was granted access to the facility on July 4. The detention conditions appeared improved but remained overcrowded.

“National Security Service officials in Baghdad told us that the intelligence agency has no authority to hold prisoners, but changed their line once we were able to see the prisoners for ourselves,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Baghdad needs to publicly clarify which authorities have the right to hold and interrogate detainees.”

On April 17 a senior NSS official in Baghdad denied operating any detention facilities and claimed that the agency only holds small numbers of people for up to 48 hours before transferring them to places of formal detention. But researchers were granted access to the facility, where officials said 427 prisoners were being held at the time.

A subsequent written response from the Baghdad office confirmed the NSS is holding prisoners in one facility in Mosul, but then proceeded to speak about detention facilities in the plural form.

Given the serious contradiction in statements and facts on the ground, the NSS should clarify the number of prisoners it is detaining and the number and location of facilities it is using to detain them. Iraqi authorities should declare the number of detention facilities across Iraq. Judicial authorities should investigate the allegations presented in this report.

More here.

ISIS Suspects’ Homes Confiscated

Iraqi security officers are denying immediate relatives of suspected Islamic State (also known as ISIS) members security clearance to reclaim homes being occupied or to seek compensation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today.

Security forces have also destroyed or confiscated some property. Such acts, based only on family relationships to ISIS suspects rather than individual security determinations, are a form of collective punishment.

“These families deserve the same protections that Iraqi courts provide to all citizens,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Courts should be the guarantors against discrimination that will only further sectarian divisions in the country and delay needed reconciliation.”

More here from HRW.

(Source: HRW)

HRW: Displacement, Detention of Suspected “ISIS Families”

Iraqi forces have forcibly displaced at least 125 families said to have familial ties to affiliates of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today.

Sunni tribal groups (known as the Hashad alAshari), within the Popular Mobilization Forces (known as the PMF or Hashd al-Sha’abi), which are under the control of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and Iraqi soldiers forced the families out of their homes following the passage of a decree issued by local authorities.

The families, all from Salah al-Din governorate, are being held against their will in a camp functioning as an open-air prison near Tikrit. The PMF also destroyed some of the families’ homes.

Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said:

While politicians in Baghdad are discussing reconciliation efforts in Iraq, the state’s own forces are undermining those efforts by destroying homes and forcing families into a detention camp.

“These families, accused of wrongdoing by association, are in many cases themselves victims of ISIS abuses and should be protected by government forces, not targeted for retribution.”

The full report is available here.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)

HRW: Looting, Destruction by Forces Fighting ISIS

From Human Rights Watch:

Armed forces fighting Islamic State (also known as ISIS) to retake a town and four villages near Mosul looted, damaged, and destroyed homes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today. There was no apparent military necessity for the demolitions, which may amount to war crimes and which took place between November 2016 and February 2017.

The Iraqi authorities should investigate allegations of war crimes and hold those responsible to account, Human Rights Watch said. The United States and other countries providing military assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces should press the government to carry out these investigations.

The United Nations Human Rights Council should expand the investigation it established in 2014 on ISIS abuses to include serious violations by all parties, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (known as the PMF or Hashd al-Sha’abi), units that were formed largely to combat ISIS, and are under the direct command of Prime Minister al-Abadi.

“Absent a legitimate military objective, there is no excuse for destroying civilian homes,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “All the destruction does is to keep civilians from going home.”

Click here to read the full report.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)

HRW: Looting, Destruction by Forces Fighting ISIS

From Human Rights Watch:

Armed forces fighting Islamic State (also known as ISIS) to retake a town and four villages near Mosul looted, damaged, and destroyed homes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today. There was no apparent military necessity for the demolitions, which may amount to war crimes and which took place between November 2016 and February 2017.

The Iraqi authorities should investigate allegations of war crimes and hold those responsible to account, Human Rights Watch said. The United States and other countries providing military assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces should press the government to carry out these investigations.

The United Nations Human Rights Council should expand the investigation it established in 2014 on ISIS abuses to include serious violations by all parties, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (known as the PMF or Hashd al-Sha’abi), units that were formed largely to combat ISIS, and are under the direct command of Prime Minister al-Abadi.

“Absent a legitimate military objective, there is no excuse for destroying civilian homes,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “All the destruction does is to keep civilians from going home.”

Click here to read the full report.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)

IS does “Incredible Job of Booby-Trapping Urban Terrain”

A report from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines says that forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS, also called ISIS or ISIL) fighting the government of Iraq have used victim-activated improvised mines, including explosive booby-traps, extensively since 2014.

Numerous media reports in 2015 and 2016 suggest widespread use of victim-activated devices by IS forces continues unabated.

Iraq stated in its annual transparency report for 2015 that the large IS-controlled areas in Nineveh and Al Anbar, and parts of Babil and Diyala, governorates are where they are “planting landmines, booby traps, and explosives devices.”

On 23 October 2016, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that casualties among people fleeing the fighting during the government campaign on Mosul were caused by victim-activated IEDs (improvised mines).

The scale and complexity of IS’s use of improvised mines, including booby-traps, has been the subject of many media reports. According to Lt. Gen. Michael Shields, the director of the United State (US) Joint IED Defeat Organization, “ISIL does an incredible job of booby-trapping urban terrain as either they are still fighting in it or departing it, as has been proven in Fallujah and other places.”

During a January 2016 operational update from Baghdad, Army Colonel Steve Warren said that while clearing Ramadi is progressing, it’s “slow and it’s painstaking” because clearance teams have “literally found thousands of booby-traps, IEDs, buried explosives [and] houses rigged to explode with a single trip-wire.”

According to Zwer Mohammed, an officer from the Peshmerga bomb disposal teams in Kirkuk, “Since the beginning of the ISIS war in 2014, we have defused 10,000 bombs and booby traps left by ISIS. We defuse around 100 bombs on a daily basis in the liberated areas.”

Due to ongoing conflict in Iraq, the number of mine/ERW casualties continued to be significantly under-recorded. Only 58 mine/ERW casualties were recorded in Iraq, and as in past years, the number is thought to be much higher.

Unlike in Afghanistan where the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) records data more completely, a complete lack of disaggregation between command-detonated IEDs, including emplaced, body-borne, and vehicle-borne devices, and presumably victim-activated IEDs meant that the number of mine casualties remained obscured in Iraq.

In south and central Iraq, data for 2015 cluster munition casualties were not disaggregated due to the difficulties caused by continuing military operations against the so-called Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) preventing mine action casualty data recording coordination with relevant authorities in order to classify and complete the data.

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: International Campaign to Ban Landmines)