In the wake of the Iraq war and the ISIS occupation of much of Iraq’s territory, human rights in Iraq appear to have been placed on the backburner. Human rights violations are not only limited to ISIS’s inhumane treatment and extermination of Shia Muslim; they also include the Iraqi forces’ abhorrent treatment of possible ISIS members and surrounding communities.
Nine Facts about Human Rights in Iraq
- Serious human rights violations have been prevalent in Iraq since 2014. The violations fall primarily into the categories of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Iraq has witnessed everything from terror attacks to sexual abuse, leaving millions of civilians without a home and forced to flee.
- ISIS is responsible for thousands of civilians deaths, punishing crimes deemed immoral and illegal under ISIS law. These atrocities and human rights violations include stoning people accused of crimes like adultery and stripping women and girls of human rights deemed basic in the United States. These attacks have been committed against civilians refusing to join the ranks of ISIS, putting them forth as an example to other resilient civilians.
- Human rights in Iraq have also been violated by government-led forces. Captured ISIS members, including those forced against their will, have been detained without any access to lawyers or aid. Kept in overcrowded prisons and denied communication with their families, access to the outside world and the ability to defend their actions, these prisoners are in a helpless situation.
- Iraq is one of the top three countries in the world for how many prisoners it executes. Hundreds of prisoners are kept on death row. At least 169 prisoners were executed in 2013; this figure has been on the rise ever since.
- Prisoners have reported that it is normal for confessions to be forced by the use of torture. This leaves room for wrongful convictions, as prisoners often give in to accusations simply to end the torture.
- With the aim of ending the reign of terror of ISIS, Iraqi forces have been given few limits on their methods used to fight against ISIS. Human rights violations by Iraqi forces are often masked under the label of fighting terror and helping the nation.
- Freedom of expression and association have been stripped by the Iraqi government, leaving little room for the growth of democracy. The Iraqi government used arms and violence to disperse peaceful protests in and around Baghdad during the recent provincial elections.
- Domestic violence is widely accepted in Iraq. The law deems sexual violence illegal; however, there is a large loophole. If the man accused of sexual assault marries the girl in question, it is no longer considered sexual assault. A 2012 study showed that 68 percent of women in Iraq have experienced some form of abuse from their husbands.
- Civilian casualties have been steadily decreasing since the overthrow of the ISIS regime. Compared to the peak of monthly deaths in October 2016, the number has significantly decreased. The figures dropped from 1,120 casualties in October 2016 to 76 in June 2018. This highlights the impact of the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
The country of Iraq has witnessed a myriad of internally and externally caused turmoil. However, since the takeback of Mosul and other ISIS-occupied territories, human rights may finally be respected and upheld by the Iraqi government. As the genocide committed by ISIS is recognized, it may pave the way for a safer life in Iraq where human rights are both respected and implemented.
– Trelawny Robinson