Rights group criticises Iraq over jihadist suspects

2017-12-05 13:20
Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Baghdad - Human Rights Watch in a report on Tuesday criticised Iraq and the autonomous Kurdish authorities over mass trials of suspected Islamic State group jihadists.

In "Flawed Justice: Accountability for ISIS Crimes in Iraq", HRW said Baghdad and the Kurdish authorities in the north were holding "thousands of trials of Islamic State suspects without a strategy to prioritise the worst abuses under Iraqi and international law".

"The broad prosecution under terrorism law of all those affiliated with ISIS (IS) in any way, no matter how minimal, could impede future community reconciliation and reintegration, and clog up Iraqi courts and prisons for decades," the New York-based group said.

READ: Iraq forces in final push against ISIS

Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director, said that in acting this way: "Iraqi justice is failing to distinguish between the culpability of doctors who protected lives under ISIS rule and those responsible for crimes against humanity."

The group said the authorities "appear to be prosecuting all ISIS suspects in their custody under counterterrorism laws, primarily for ISIS membership, and not focusing on specific actions or crimes that may have been committed".

Anti-terrorism laws

HRW identified 7 374 cases of suspects charged under this law since 2014, of whom 92 have been executed.

Its researchers estimate the total number of people imprisoned for suspected IS membership at 20 000.

Anti-terrorism laws allow judges to charge a large number of people, even those not involved in violence but who are suspected of having helped IS, such as doctors who worked in hospitals or cooks who fed fighters.

HRW said it was easier to charge a suspect under anti-terrorism laws than with a specific offence under the penal code as all the authorities had to do was to prove IS membership.

It said counterterrorism laws carry harsh sentences, including life in prison or the death penalty, even for belonging to the jihadist group.

"But that makes it more difficult to prioritise and punish the most serious crimes," it said.

HRW also believes the authorities "have made no efforts to solicit victim participation in the trials, even as witnesses".

It said the report was based on information gathered in Arbil and Baghdad between November 2016 and July 2017.

HRW also said it regretted that a 2016 Iraqi law granting amnesty to suspects who can show they joined IS or any extremist group against their will and have not committed a crime was not being consistently applied.

"Execution of fighters who surrender or are hors de combat is a war crime," HRW added.

IS swept across a third of Iraq in 2014 and seized several cities including Mosul, before starting to be driven out in mid-2017.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    hrw  |  iraq

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

And the Paws24 and Hill's winners are ...

Find out who the winners of our Paws24 pet pics and Q&a competitions are...

 

Paws

Keep your family and pets safe from rabies
5 scientific benefits of owning a cat
Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.