HRW: Iraq militias may be committing war crimes

HRW: Iraq militias may be committing war crimes

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Sunday that militias allied with Iraqi forces are committing abuses that are “possibly war crimes” [press release]. HRW reports that in some areas residents have been forced from their homes, kidnapped and extra-judicially executed. In the provinces of Muqdadiyya area of Diyala, more than 3,000 people have been forced from their homes since June and have been prevented from returning, in some cases, because militia forces torched their homes. HRW has been interviewing victims, some of whom are saying that the militias “said that they would kill [them] because [they] are Sunni.” HRW is also conducting its own investigation to examine allegations that forces had killed 72 civilians in Barwana and Muqdadiyya.

The UN and human rights organizations have consistently been calling on the international community to end the human rights abuses occurring in Iraq [JURIST news archive]. Last year Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [press release] that Iraqi Shiite militia, armed and supported by the Iraqi government, had been committing war crimes and abducting and murdering “scores” of Sunni men in retaliation for attacks by the Sunni-led Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder]. Also last year the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official websites] jointly released a report [JURIST report] detailing the staggering amount of human rights abuses committing by IS. The report examined human rights violations that had occurred over a nine-week period and was released less than a week after the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights decried [JURIST report] IS for its recent killings and human rights violations of women in IS-controlled areas in Iraq. Also last year the UN General Assembly [official website] met [JURIST report] to discuss “the responsibility to protect” adopted by world leaders in 2005, stressing the urgency to protect civilians in several countries, including Iraq, as crises rage around the world.