Prime min­is­ter: Rights vi­o­la­tions in Mo­sul ‘in­di­vid­ual acts’

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - SINAN SALAHEDDIN

BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces com­mit­ted hu­man-rights vi­o­la­tions dur­ing the bat­tle to re­take the city of Mo­sul from the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ist group, the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter said, in­sist­ing how­ever, that these were “in­di­vid­ual acts” for which the per­pe­tra­tors would be pun­ished.

The re­marks by Haider al-Abadi, at a late night news con­fer­ence Tues­day, came af­ter videos emerged on so­cial me­dia in the af­ter­math of the vic­tory in Mo­sul and show troops throw­ing cap­tured Is­lamic State sus­pects off a high wall, then shoot­ing their bod­ies be­low.

The U.S.-backed, nearly 9-month-old cam­paign for Mo­sul is mired in vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted by gov­ern­ment forces and paramil­i­taries that in­ter­na­tional hu­man-rights groups have de­cried as war crimes, in­clud­ing the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings of Is­lamic State sus­pects and the forced dis­place­ment and de­ten­tion of civil­ians.

The most re­cent ev­i­dence are the videos that emerged even af­ter al-Abadi 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 the Is­lamic State “to de­fame us and the se­cu­rity forces.”

The prime min­is­ter did not cite or de­tail any sin­gle in­ci­dent.

“Any vi­o­la­tion against the law or any vi­o­la­tion against a per­son’s dig­nity is not ac­cept­able, and we will chase [the per­pe­tra­tors] down,” he said. “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 the Is­lamic State to a tent camp near Mo­sul that au­thor­i­ties de­scribe as a “re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion camp.”

The New York-based watch­dog said the camp in Bartella, about 12 miles east of Mo­sul, had been opened re­cently, fol­low­ing a gov­ern­ment di­rec­tive to have Is­lamic State 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 the Is­lamic State oc­curred.

“Iraqi au­thor­i­ties shouldn’t pun­ish en­tire fam­i­lies be­cause of their rel­a­tives’ ac­tions,” said Lama Fakih, the Mideast deputy chief at Hu­man Rights Watch.

“We are against col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment,” al-Abadi said. “If [the Is­lamic State 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 about three years by the Is­lamic State.

Is­lamic State 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 ef­fort to re­take Mo­sul also in­volved grind­ing ur­ban war­fare in which the se­cu­rity forces suf­fered heavy ca­su­al­ties.

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