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“Armed groups,” “paramilitary forces,” “groups following the orders of another country.” Human rights advocates in Iraq use these descriptions all the time when we refer to the men with guns behind so many of the killings, abductions, and torture of…
Iraqi soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Nineveh, Iraq. Friday Dec. 4, 2020.
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Shortly after Denmark began telling Syrian refugees that parts of Syria are "safe" and stripped them of their temporary protected status, I talked to a 31-year-old refugee who voluntarily returned to Syria from Jordan in December 2020. He told me…
A streetview of destroyed buildings in a city
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On July 12, Jordan's infamous State Security Court, which routinely runs roughshod over defendants' due process rights, convicted a former high-level official and a little-known royal family member of "sowing discord" and "inciting opposition to the…
Silhouettes are cast on a Jordanian national flag in Amman, Jordan, November 30, 2016. 
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A federal judge in California ruled on April 21 that the Iraqi extradition case against Omar Ameen, a resettled refugee in the U.S., was based on an alleged series of events that is "simply not plausible." The evidence the government presented,…
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When protests erupted in Baghdad and other parts of central and southern Iraq in October 2019, tens of thousands of mostly young people took to the streets demanding improved government services and more action to curb widespread corruption. The…
Iraqi security forces fire tear gas to disperse protesters during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019.
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It is vitally important for the world to remember the people of North Korea, not just its nuclear weapons.

“There is barely any food going into the country from China for almost two months now,” a missionary who clandestinely helps people in need inside North Korea told me last September. “There are so many more beggars, some people died from hunger in the…
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UK nationals committed abuses in Iraq after 2003 on a significant scale. The International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) Final Report on the UK and Iraq on December 9 is the latest official report to find that members of UK…
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My heart sank as my colleague told me recently about the latest torture victim from Iraq who had contacted us to share his story. I had heard the same kinds of accounts from other victims of torture in detention, including the same names of two…
Juveniles’ cell at Tal Kayf prison, taken in April 2019 and shared confidentially with Human Rights Watch, shows extreme overcrowding at the prison.
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Over the four years that I have monitored human rights in Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials have often touted their superiority to the central government in Baghdad in respecting human rights. When I have met in Erbil with regional…
Woman holding up a sign in Arabic
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Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has been in office only a month, but he has wasted no time in taking on some of Iraq’s most serious human rights issues more earnestly than many of his predecessors. While these moves are a positive sign, Al-…
Woman holding up a sign in Arabic
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The death of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi comes two years after ISIS lost most of its Iraq territory and less than a year after the last major battles against ISIS in Syria. While al-Baghdadi’s death means that his…
Men, suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State, gather in a prison cell in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh on October 26, 2019.
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Basra holds more of Iraq’s oil reserves than any other governorate. By last  December, Iraq was exporting 3.726 million barrels of oil a day, generating US$6.1 billion a month in state revenue. And yet this wealth has not bought…
Drone footage taken by the Norwegian Refugee Council in Basra city in October 2018. © 2018 Norwegian Refugee Council
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Western European intransigence on ensuring that citizens detained abroad as ISIL suspects or their family members can return home made world headlines recently when an Iraqi court sentenced nine French citizens to death following trials…
A woman walks with a child in Roj camp, which holds foreign wives and children of Islamic State (ISIS) members, in northeast Syria, September 2018. © 2018 Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images
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He was just a 14-year-old schoolboy when the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took over his city, Mosul, in northern Iraq. His school soon shut down. With little else to do, he said, he joined ISIS to make money. He said he received twenty days of…
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Good Policy, and It’s the Law

A little over a year ago, before a packed joint session of Congress for the 2018 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump took a moment to recognize a North Korean escapee in the audience named Ji Sung-ho. Ji escaped from…
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, in Singapore on June 12, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo /Evan Vucci
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The image of a comatose Otto Warmbier being carried off a plane in the United States in June 2017 offered a glimpse of life – and death – in North Korea. Warmbier was a 22-year-old American university student who died from unexplained injuries sustained…
Security Council members cast their votes in favor of the adoption of the agenda on human rights abuses by North Korea in New York on December 10, 2015.
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Sometimes complex policy issues are best captured in a simple question. If ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is captured alive tomorrow, who should prosecute him, where and for what crimes? When I pose this question to policymakers – in Western…
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Across Iraq, there are men, women and children – perhaps over 100,000 if one extrapolates from statistics the government has issued on people detained on terror charges - that society has labeled “ISIS families.” In some cases, their fathers, husbands or…
Graffiti that reads "Daesh (ISIS)," marks the home of relatives of an ISIS member in a west Mosul neighborhood, Iraq. © 2018 Private.