• Iraq’s human rights situation has worsened since January 2014, when armed clashes between government and insurgent forces enveloped the mostly Sunni Anbar province. The crisis deteriorated further in June, when an array of Sunni armed groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), launched a major offensive, taking control of the cities of Mosul and Tikrit as well as other areas. By July the violence had displaced more than one million Iraqis, according to UN figures. Serious violations by ISIS have included abductions and mass executions, and persecution of Iraq’s ethnic and religious communities. The government has also committed serious abuses, including mass executions of Sunni prisoners, and kidnappings and summary executions by security forces and government-backed Shia militias. The government in June issued new media guidelines that violate Iraq’s obligation to protect free expression. Both ISIS and government-aligned Shia militias are apparently using children under 18 in their forces.
  • Fearing for their lives, more than 150,000 Yezidis fled Sinjar and surrounding villages to mountains north of the city on August 3, 2014 when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked the area. Some young and elderly are dying from the harsh conditions.
    I visited a Yezidi village south of Dohuk last Wednesday -- a magnet for 60,000 to 70,000 Yezidis fleeing fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).

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Reports

Iraq

  • Sep 2, 2014
    New evidence about executions carried out by the Islamic State (IS) in Tikrit after it seized the city in June 2014 triples the estimated death toll and shows additional execution sites.
  • Sep 1, 2014
    Human Rights Watch welcomes the HRC's attention to the crisis in Iraq and to that end supports a resolution calling on all parties to cease fighting and for an independent investigation into abuses committed by all sides to the conflict.
  • Aug 28, 2014

    We who work to promote human rights operate in the realm of treaties, rule of law, and state responsibility.

  • Aug 9, 2014
    I visited a Yezidi village south of Dohuk last Wednesday -- a magnet for 60,000 to 70,000 Yezidis fleeing fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).
  • Jul 31, 2014
    Government-backed militias have been kidnapping and killing Sunni civilians throughout Iraq’s Baghdad, Diyala, and Hilla provinces over the past five months. The killings and abductions mark a serious escalation in sectarian violence at a time when the armed conflict between government forces and Sunni insurgents is intensifying.
  • Jul 22, 2014
    Iraq’s security forces have killed at least 75 civilians and wounded hundreds of others in indiscriminate air strikes on five cities since June 6, 2014. Human Rights Watch documented 17 airstrikes, the majority in the first half of July. Barrel bombs were used in six of them.
  • Jul 20, 2014
    Militiamen saunter unchallenged along Baghdad streets with rocket-propelled grenade launchers slung across their shoulders. Neighborhood after neighborhood is being ghettoized and sealed off by checkpoints manned by fighters in civilian clothes carrying machine guns. On Iraqiyya, the state TV channel, the war propaganda is so bizarre that it appears like satire: pictures of heavily-built men dancing in tandem while decked out in military uniforms and body armor, and twirling AK-47s like they’re batons.
  • Jul 19, 2014
    The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is killing, kidnapping, and threatening religious and ethnic minorities in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Since capturing Mosul on June 10, 2014, the armed Sunni extremist group has seized at least 200 Turkmen, Shabaks, and Yazidis, killed at least 11 of them, and ordered all Christians to convert to Islam, pay “tribute” money, or leave Mosul by July 19.
  • Jul 11, 2014
    Iraqi security forces and militias affiliated with the government appear to have unlawfully executed at least 255 prisoners in six Iraqi cities and villages since June 9, 2014. In all but one case, the executions took place while the fighters were fleeing Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and other armed groups. The vast majority of security forces and militias are Shia, while the murdered prisoners were Sunni. At least eight of those killed were boys.
  • Jul 9, 2014
    How Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki plans to defeat the horribly abusive Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and other Sunni groups that have seized control of large swathes of Iraq remains unclear. And under his government’s new media regulations, the Iraqi public isn’t likely to find out.