For the Iraqi people, life in Iraq is uncertain and human rights violations occur regularly. The Iraq government does not have true control over the country and the results have been an increase in militias and ISIS groups, which are forcibly displacing thousands of citizens and killing those who are fleeing the fighting.
According to Amnesty International’s latest report, more than 3 million Iraqis remain displaced within the country. The Kurdistan referendum for independence has resulted in the Iraqi government retaking control over the area and persecution of the Kurds has continued.
Additionally, ISIS is still active in the country to some degree, and these groups are committing multiple human rights abuses. They have put civilians in harm’s way just to protect their own fighters. Iraqi and Kurdish governments have carried out extrajudicial executions of those who are suspected of being part of ISIS. These executions are violations of international law, as they were not given a fair trial.
Thousands of men and boys that are considered of fighting age fleeing territory controlled by ISIS are being subjected to additional security screenings by Iraqi security forces, Kurdish forces, and paramilitary militias in reception sites or makeshift detention facilities. Thousands more are being arrested as suspected terrorists, taken from their homes without any form of warrant and then held in detention.
The Iraqi Ministries of the Interior and Defense held men and boys suspected of being part of ISIS in detentions, where they were interrogated by security officers without lawyers present and were also tortured. This torture included beatings on the head and body with metal rods and cables, suspension in stress positions by the arms or legs, electric shocks, and threats of rape of female relatives. Detainees faced limited access to medical care, which led to deaths in custody.
Conditions are harsh for these prisoners, and they include overcrowding, poor ventilation, and lack of access to showers or toilets.
In cases where the Iraqi government is in control of an area, the judicial system is still flawed. Fair trials are routinely denied to those suspected of terrorism, and other international laws regarding the rights of prisoners are also ignored. Lawyers who attempted to defend those accused of being part of ISIS are being arrested.
In the context of armed conflict, the Iraqi government forces and its militias have forcibly displaced civilians and destroyed their homes on a massive scale. Then families were held in detention camps against their will. The reality is that for many Iraqis, the government is not a place of safety, but a place of horrific treatment.
In response to allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes committed by Iraqi forces and progovernment militias, the Iraqi authorities established committees to evaluate the available evidence and launch investigations.
Such committees have consistently failed to release any findings publicly or to communicate their findings to international or national NGOs, according to Amnesty International.
The international community is unable to adequately address these issues, in large part because of the fact that Iraq remains very fractured. The government does not have control over all of the country’s territory and is also dealing with interference from Iran. Human rights in Iraq are headed in a continual downward spiral without the intervention.