• 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.
  • A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) holds an ISIS flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 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.

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Reports

Iraq

  • 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.
  • Jul 3, 2014
    Iraq’s new media guidelines are so vague as to be wide open to abuse. The guidelines unjustifiably restrict freedom of the press, including by requiring pro-governmental coverage. The government-run Communications and Media Commission (CMC) issued the “mandatory” guidelines on June 18, 2014, to regulate media “during the war on terror.”
  • Jun 27, 2014
    Forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) kidnapped at least 40 Shia Turkmen, dynamited four Shia places of worship, and ransacked homes and farms in two Shia villages bordering the Iraqi city of Mosul.
  • Jun 26, 2014
    Analysis of photographs and satellite imagery strongly indicates that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) conducted mass executions in Tikrit after seizing control of the city on June 11, 2014.
  • Jun 25, 2014
    A young man named Ahmed told me recently that his family is planning to flee their besieged hometown in the “Sunni triangle,” the area northwest of Baghdad that is thickly populated with Sunni Muslims, for the relative safety of Erbil in the Kurdish north. But Ahmed says he won’t be going with them. As fearful as he is about staying in his town, he’s even more afraid of leaving it. The reason is that Ahmed, who asked that only his first name be used, once worked as a translator for the U.S. military. As fighters from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have torn through the countryside they have released prisoners, including many who had been rounded up by U.S. forces during Iraq’s civil war. Ahmed has heard that the freed prisoners are vengefully ambushing people on the road that leads to Kirkuk and, eventually, to Erbil, “looking for people who worked as translators to kill.”
  • Jun 25, 2014
    The Tunisian authorities should promptly investigate allegations that Tunisian combatants have committed war crimes in Iraq and Syria. On June 13, 2014, a man calling himself Abu Hamza al-Mouhamadi, and identifying himself as Tunisian, posted on his now-closed Facebook page three videos and associated photographs apparently showing his role in the abuse and ultimate execution of five detained Iraqi border guards.