[JURIST] Iraq’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft law creating a national guard in a step toward achieving national unity. The Cabinet also approved a draft law reforming a previous ban on former Baath Party members becoming part of the government. This second draft law proved challenging to pass as Sunni ministers boycotted the reform. However, the rest of the Cabinet approved the reform, and thus, both laws will now go before parliament [Reuters report] for approval. The government is hopeful that the installation of a national guard will help confront the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder], which controls large sections of Iraq.
IS has caused increasing international alarm over its human rights abuses [JURIST report] since its insurgence into Syria and Iraq in 2013. In November the UN commission of inquiry for the Syrian Arab Republic [official website] reported [JURIST report] that IS is responsible for war crimes on a “massive scale” in Syria. Also In November Human Rights Watch reported that IS militants tortured and abused [JURIST report] Kurdish children in Syria. The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic [official website] expressed grave concerns [JURIST report] in October about escalating violence against civilians. In September the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad criticized [JURIST report] IS for its recent killings and human rights violations of women in IS-controlled areas in Iraq.