The United Nations accuses the so-called Islamic State (IS) of committing shockingly widespread and extremely severe human rights violations against the people of Iraq.
A report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council singles out the crime of genocide against the Yazidi minority.
The report’s details set off a spirited debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council. Country after country condemned the widespread, barbaric atrocities committed by the militants, with some describing the group and its actions as “pure evil.”
In presenting the report, U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pasieri, using the ISIL acronym for the group, told the 43-member Council and dozens of observer states that 2014 was the deadliest year for civilians in Iraq since the bloodshed in 2006 and 2007.
“It was marked by particularly horrific attacks and a surge of violence by the so-called ISIL group, which has deliberately committed shocking and serious crimes…suggestive of crimes against humanity; war crimes and other serious violations of human rights, particularly against women and girls,” said Pasieri.
The most appalling crime, she said, was that of genocide.
“Information gathered by the mission strongly suggests that ISIL may have perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Yazidi population, with a manifest pattern of killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm and forced transfer of children, aimed at destroying the Yazidis as a group,” said Pasieri.
The report documents men and adolescent boys being summarily executed, Yazidi women and girls sold as slaves, girls as young as six repeatedly raped and children between the ages of eight and 18 forcibly conscripted.
U.N. investigators say other communities, including Christians, Kurds, Shia and Turkmen have also suffered violence at the hands of the militants, tantamount to crimes against humanity. In addition, they describe deliberate attacks by the fighters on Iraq’s cultural heritage of humanity, which they deem a war crime.
While most of the atrocities in Iraq have been committed by the Islamic State group, Pasieri noted the report also accuses the Iraqi security forces and associated militia of committing grave violations with impunity.
“It also gathered reports, from multiple credible sources, that violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including war crimes, extrajudicial killings, torture, abductions and forcible displacement of large numbers of people, have been committed by the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) or associated groups,” said Pasieri.
In response, the Iraqi minister for human rights said Iraqi forces who were fighting IS were defending the honor of the Iraqi people and exercising their right of self-defense. He added Iraq would not permit a transgression of the rule of law and committed itself to fight the IS group and any other terrorist organization.