Iraq: UN human rights report voices concern over conduct of ISIL fighter trials

UNAMI PIO/Sarmad As-Safy UN Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert visits Sinjar on the fifth anniversary of the gross atrocities committed by ISIL terrorists against Iraq’s Yazidi community. (August 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


A new UN report published on Tuesday shows that while considerable effort has been made by Iraqi authorities to bring former ISIL terrorist fighters to justice, there are “serious concerns” about the fairness of the proceedings.

The joint report by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN human rights office found that basic fair trial standards were not respected in terrorism-related trials, thus placing defendants at a serious disadvantage.

“A fair and just criminal justice system is a central element to the democratic way of life, and key to building trust and legitimacy, and promoting and protecting human rights”, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

“Those responsible for widespread atrocities against the Iraqi population must be held to account for their crimes, and it is important that the victims see that justice is delivered. At the same time, those accused have the right to a fair trial, and these standards must be strictly applied.”

Nearly 800 trials monitored

The terrorist group ISIL, most commonly referred to in Arabic as Daesh, waged a campaign of widespread violence against the Iraqi population between June 2014 and December 2017, holding large swathes of territory across the country, as well as northern Syria, until its military defeat.

Fighters committed atrocities, including mass murder, abductions, sexual slavery and destruction, which may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.

The report is based on independent monitoring of 794 criminal court trials mainly involving ISIL defendants held in eight Iraqi provinces from 1 May 2018 through 31 October 2019. The majority of the hearings, 619, concerned people facing anti-terrorism charges.

Overreliance on confessions

While proceedings were generally orderly and well organized, with judges who were routinely prepared with investigation files, UN human rights officers found defendants had ineffective legal representation and limited possibilities to present or challenge evidence.

Prosecutions mainly focused on “association” or “membership” of a terrorist organization, with no distinction being made between people who participated in violence and those who joined ISIL for their own survival, or through coercion.

For example, UNAMI observed a trial in Erbil where the wife of an ISIL fighter was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment based on an informer’s evidence that she used to cook meals for her husband and other fighters.

In another case, a 14-year-old boy in Baghdad was condemned to 15 years in jail based on the admission that his family was among civilians forced to act as “human shields” to protect ISIL fighters from aerial attack.

Furthermore, the report stated “the over-reliance on confessions, with frequent allegations of torture that were inadequately addressed—while constituting a human rights violation in itself—further added to the concerns”.

Strengthen criminal justice proceedings

Through its mission, UNAMI, the UN supports Iraq in promoting accountability, protection of human rights, and judicial and legal reform.

The joint report praises the efforts made by the authorities to seek justice and accountability for the crimes committed by ISIL, with more than 20,000 terrorism-related cases processed between January 2018 and October 2019, and thousands pending.

However, the authors call for a thorough review of trial and sentencing practices, aimed at strengthening criminal justice procedures.

Report recommendations

Recommendations include revising the anti-terrorism laws to comply with international law, and ensuring defendants have sufficient time to prepare and present their cases.

“Robust safeguards for detention, due process and fair trials not only demonstrate commitment to justice: they are a necessary building block for resilience. We are well aware that a variety of grievances, including unfair trials and detainee abuse, have been exploited in the past by ISIL to fuel its violent agenda,” said UNAMI chief, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Why artificial intelligence is learning emotional intelligence

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

Here are 10 of the most urgent health challenges we’ll face in the 2020s, according to WHO

Shipping industry must contribute to climate neutrality, say MEPs

A record one million Syrians displaced over six months, during six key battles: UN investigators

UN heath agency: Time is now to ‘act as one’ in fighting infectious coronavirus

The EU Commission predicts a decimated growth in the next years

Security Council calls for dialogue in Haiti

Digital learning can help us close the global education gap. This is how

CO2 can help the construction industry emit less CO2. Here’s how

“Our house is on fire.” 16 year-old Greta Thunberg wants action

A long German political winter is on the way

Telemedicine and the Brazilian reality

The future of work requires a return to apprenticeships

Why is black plastic packaging so hard to recycle?

These researchers want to use your computer in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine

EU Council agrees to reform the system for motor vehicles but with “restricted” power for the Commission

Main results of Environment Council of 09 October 2018

Three-quarters of South Sudanese children have known nothing but war, says UNICEF

First EU collective redress mechanism to protect consumers

Boeing subsidy case: World Trade Organization confirms EU right to retaliate against $4 billion of U.S. imports

Sustainable Finance: Commission welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of the Taxonomy Regulation

Four ways innovation can help to beat heart disease

This is how climate science went mainstream

Health spending set to outpace GDP growth to 2030

Restoring prospect of peace in Middle East is ‘our shared responsibility’ UN envoy tells Security Council

UN working with both sides, after hidden tunnels confirmed along Lebanon-Israel ‘Blue Line’

Human rights breaches in Belarus, Ethiopia, and Algeria

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register an initiative for ‘a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices’

Yellen and Draghi tell Trump and markets not to expedite the next crisis

Security of 5G networks: EU Member States complete national risk assessments

Antitrust: Commission publishes findings of the evaluation of rules on horizontal agreements between companies

The West and Russia took what they wanted from Ukraine

Parliament’s interparliamentary delegations established

When it comes to envirotech adoption, NGOs can lead us out of the woods

EU plans pan-European network of cybersecurity services

The link between air pollution and COVID-19 deaths

UN rights chief calls for international inquiry into Kashmir violations

In Bali, UN chief Guterres outlines importance of international financial cooperation for sustainable development

These photos show some of the world’s smallest things massively magnified

Ebola cases rising in DR Congo, but UN health agency cites progress in community trust-building

5 amazing people fighting to save the oceans

Your computer can help scientists find a cure for COVID-19. Here’s how

Investors must travel a winding road to net-zero. Here’s a map

Can the world take the risk of a new financial armageddon so that IMF doesn’t lose face towards Tsipras?

How one change to shipping goods could change the way we live

4 ways to build businesses that work for good, right now

Clamp down on illegal trade in pets, urge Public Health Committee MEPs

We need to rethink neuroscience. And you can help us

European Commission revamps its ‘Have Your Say’ portal

Vaccine hesitancy: a pregnancy related issue?

Globally, youth are the largest poverty-stricken group, says new UN report

How the world’s best teacher is changing lives in Africa

Mergers: Commission approves Assa Abloy’s acquisition of Agta Record, subject to conditions

How to fight back against misinformation and polarization

Ukraine’s Poroshenko implicates NATO in his duel with Putin

Idlib deal could save three million ‘from catastrophe’ says UN chief, as militants are urged to lay down arms

South Sudan: UN official welcomes release of women and children abducted by armed group

Commission caps charges on card and Internet payments and enforces competition

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control over Prosegur Alarmas by Telefónica and Prosegur

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s