UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Tuesday condemned [press release] the recent loss of civilian life in Mosul as a result of airstrikes and actions by Islamic State (IS) militants. Information from the UN Human Rights Office indicated that at least 307 people were killed, with another 273 wounded, between February 17 and March 22. IS has reportedly instituted a practice of using civilians as human shields, to which Zeid responded, “ISIL’s strategy of using children, men and women to shield themselves from attack is cowardly and disgraceful. … Under international humanitarian law, the use of human shields amounts to a war crime.” However, it is not only IS that has killed civilians in recent weeks, with reports showing that coalition airstrikes have routinely led to civilian casualties. The commissioner urged the coalition to “review how their procedures comply with their obligations under the international humanitarian law principle of precautions, and consider all tactical options available with a view to avoiding civilian loss of life.”
In February Human Rights Watch reported that IS was detaining [JURIST report], ill-treating, torturing and forcibly marrying Sunni Arab women and girls in areas under their control. In January the UN released a report that showed that more than 6,800 civilians were killed [JURIST report] in Iraq during 2016.