Iraqi PM: Rights vi­o­la­tions in Mo­sul were ‘in­di­vid­ual acts’

Video showed sol­dier gun­ning down un­armed man

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Iraqi forces com­mit­ted hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions dur­ing the bat­tle to re­take the city of Mo­sul from the Is­lamic State group, the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter ac­knowl­edged, but in­sisted that these were “in­di­vid­ual acts” for which the per­pe­tra­tors would be pun­ished. The re­marks by Haider Al-Abadi, at a late night press con­fer­ence on Tues­day, came af­ter shock­ing videos emerged on so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing the vic­tory in Mo­sul and show­ing troops throw­ing cap­tured IS sus­pects off a high wall, then shoot­ing their bod­ies be­low.

The US-backed nearly ninemonth-old cam­paign for Mo­sul is mired in vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted by gov­ern­ment forces and paramil­i­taries that in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights groups have de­cried as war crimes, rang­ing from ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings for IS sus­pects to forced dis­place­ment and de­ten­tion to civil­ians. The most re­cent ev­i­dence is the videos that emerged even af­ter AlAbadi last week de­clared “to­tal vic­tory” in Mo­sul. An­other video showed a sol­dier gun­ning down an un­armed man kneel­ing in front of a car.

Al-Abadi spec­u­lated that sol­diers who com­mit­ted such vi­o­la­tions were ei­ther “ig­no­rant” of the con­se­quences or had struck a deal with Daesh “to de­fame us and the se­cu­rity forces.”The prime min­is­ter did not cite or de­tail any sin­gle in­ci­dent. Daesh is the Ara­bic acro­nym for IS. “Any vi­o­la­tion against the law or any vi­o­la­tion against a per­son’s dig­nity is not ac­cept­able and we will chase them (per­pe­tra­tors) down,” he added. “These are in­di­vid­ual acts and not wide­spread and we will not tol­er­ate such acts.”

Iraqi se­cu­rity forces are also ac­cused by Hu­man Rights Watch of forcibly mov­ing dozens of women and chil­dren with al­leged links to IS to a tent camp near Mo­sul that au­thor­i­ties de­scribe as a “re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion camp.” The New York-based watch­dog said the camp in Bartella, around 20 kilo­me­ters east of Mo­sul, had been opened re­cently, fol­low­ing a gov­ern­ment di­rec­tive to have IS fam­ily mem­bers un­dergo “psy­cho­log­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.” It houses at least 170 fam­i­lies, mostly women and chil­dren from ar­eas of western Mo­sul, where the last bat­tles against IS took place.

“Iraqi au­thor­i­ties shouldn’t pun­ish en­tire fam­i­lies be­cause of their rel­a­tives’ ac­tions,” said Lama Fakih, the Mideast deputy chief at HRW. “We are against col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment,” Al-Abadi said. “If their (IS mil­i­tants) fam­i­lies co­op­er­ated with them in their crimes against civil­ians, then they will face le­gal con­se­quences, but those who didn’t take part ... will not face any­thing.” Iraqi forces re­cap­tured Mo­sul af­ter the city was held for around three years by the Is­lamic State group.

IS mil­i­tants were no­to­ri­ous for atroc­i­ties, both against civil­ians and Iraqi se­cu­rity forces, of­ten hunt­ing down any­one con­nected with the po­lice or mil­i­tary af­ter they over­ran ter­ri­tory. The as­sault to re­take Mo­sul also in­volved grind­ing ur­ban war­fare in which the se­cu­rity forces suf­fered heavy ca­su­al­ties.—AP

MO­SUL: Sus­pected Is­lamic State mem­bers sit in­side a small room in a prison south of Mo­sul. —AP

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