Index number: MDE 14/8196/2018. Territorial armed conflict involving the armed group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq has come to an end, but the suffering of Iraqis has not. Thousands of Iraqi women and children with perceived IS ties have been condemned for crimes they did not commit. They are being punished for factors outside of their control – such as being related, however distantly, to men who were somehow involved with IS. In IDP camps across Iraq, they are denied food, water and health care and prevented from returning home. Many have been subjected to sexual harassment, rape and sexual exploitation. This treatment has left these families with a deep sense of injustice.
Sexual violence is a prominent and well-publicised aspect of the ethnic cleansing committed in Northern Iraq by Da’esh since 2014, including the creation of a complex system of slavery that includes rape, forced marriage and sexual violence. However, as elsewhere, conflict and atrocity-related sexual violence is not a new phenomenon in Iraq. The Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI) has launched a guide to assist practitioners gather evidence of these forms of violence in Iraq, helping to overcome some of the key barriers to tackling impunity for these crimes.
Three years of conflict with the so called Islamic State displaced 5.8 million people in Iraq. By the end of 2017, 3.3 million people had returned home. Many of those who remain displaced are unable to return for many reasons – a lack of services in their place of origin, threats of violence, destruction of their homes or contamination by unexploded ordinances. In February 2018, the Danish Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee and the Norwegian Refugee Council released a report about returns in Anbar governorate – the location of the first wave of displacement during the conflict and, to date, the largest number of returns.
Country Policy and Information Note.
The 76-page report, “Flawed Justice: Accountability for ISIS Crimes in Iraq,” examines the screening, detention, investigation, and prosecution of some of the thousands of Islamic State (also known as ISIS) suspects in Iraq. Human Rights Watch found serious legal shortcomings that undermine the efforts to bring ISIS suspects to justice. Most significantly, there is no national strategy to ensure the credible prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes. The broad prosecution under terrorism law of all those affiliated with ISIS in any way, no matter how minimal, could impede future community reconciliation and reintegration, and clog up Iraqi courts and prisons for decades.
September’s independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan has pushed Baghdad to take control of Kirkuk and its oil fields from Kurdish control. To avert the threat of further direct confrontation, the two sides must agree to a reinvigorated UN-led effort to settle longstanding disputes over internal boundaries and shared oil revenues.
After the liberation of Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS) occupation in July 2017, Refugees International (RI) traveled to Iraq to examine the specific challenges faced by women and girls in the aftermath of the military operation. Among the most urgent issues are the detention and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of Iraqi women and girls perceived or alleged to be affiliated with ISIS by Iraqi Security Forces and other Iraqi authorities. For the security of the survivors and the humanitarians in whom they have confided, RI did not directly interview any of the affected women and girls. However, RI interviewed dozens of humanitarian actors with knowledge of violations occurring in camps in Ninewa, Salaheddin, and Anbar governorates. Based on the consistency of reporting and the experience and reputations of the actors involved, RI believes the information provided in this brief is credible and merits the concern of the government of Iraq and organizations with responsibility for humanitarian issues in the wake of military operations to defeat ISIS.
Country policy and information notes.
The battle for west Mosul has caused a civilian catastrophe. Civilians have been ruthlessly exploited by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), which has systematically moved them into zones of conflict, used them as human shields and prevented them from escaping to safety. They have also been subjected to relentless and unlawful attacks by Iraqi government forces and members of the US-led coalition. Residents of west Mosul count themselves lucky if they escape with their lives.