• 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.
  • The U.S. can help the Yazidis and their Kurdish hosts by increasing financial support for desperately needed shelters and schools.
    Yazidi refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan now sleep in classrooms, hallways, and the courtyards of facilities intended for children’s education. What happens when school starts?

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  • Sep 13, 2014
    The Iraqi government should promptly investigate an airstrike that hit a school housing displaced people near Tikrit on September 1, 2014. The attack killed at least 31 civilians, including 24 children, and wounded 41 others. According to three survivors, no fighters from the armed group Islamic State or other military objects were in or around the school at the time.
  • Sep 9, 2014
    Yazidi refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan now sleep in classrooms, hallways, and the courtyards of facilities intended for children’s education. What happens when school starts?
  • Sep 5, 2014
    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s gruesome staged-for-maximum-horror murders of the kidnapped American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in northern Syria have underlined the high risk of reporting on the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in Syria and Iraq. Their murders bring to 67 the number of journalists killed in Syria from work-related causes since 2011, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In Iraq, 165 journalists have been killed since 2003.
  • Sep 3, 2014
  • 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.