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Human rights situation in Iraq in light of abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups

1 September 2014

Human Rights Council – 22nd Special Session
Geneva, Monday 1 September 2014

Thank you Mister President,

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) welcomes the convening of this special session as a timely and most-needed reaction from this Council.

The region where the so-called Islamic State and associated groups operate is home to a very rich diversity of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, including Turkmen, Yezidis, Chaldo-Assyrian Christians and Shabaks. They are particularly affected by the tragic events unfolding since June 2014. On the one hand because these minorities are specifically targeted by these groups, on religious and ethnic grounds. On the other hand, because they constitute vulnerable groups, lacking political support and effective protection from the Iraqi authorities. As a consequence, Iraq’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious future is today at grave risk.

The international community must play its part in ensuring that the country is not emptied of some of the world’s most ancient minorities, and the dispatching of an OHCHR mission to monitor, investigate and report on the situation is welcome in that context.

Mister President,

MRG would also like to stress that the mass exodus of Iraqi minorities did not start in June 2014. Way before the offensive of the Islamic State, a vast majority of the Iraqi Christians had already left the country, as did more than 90% of the Sabean-Mandean community. In fact, since 2004, MRG has consistently ranked Iraq among the six countries where minorities are the most under threat. The Iraqi authorities so far have failed to take the necessary measures to protect minorities and to hold accountable authors of attacks against their members.

MRG therefore calls on the new Iraqi government to take strong commitments and immediate actions to preserve Iraq’s multi-ethnic future, beyond the current crisis.

  • Firstly, Iraq should commit to the protection and re-settlement of minority IDPs created in the current conflict, and to the full restitution to minority communities of their former lands and homes
  • Secondly, Iraq should draw up a comprehensive plan of action to implement the recent recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in cooperation with minority representatives, the OHCHR and the UNAMI
  • Finally, Iraq should accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to guarantee accountability for present and future crimes under international law committed in Iraq

I thank you.