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Iraqi Government Pledges Fair, Impartial Probe into Protest Violence

Iraqi Government Pledges Fair, Impartial Probe into Protest Violence

Thursday, 28 May, 2020 - 07:00
People hold an anti-government protest in Baghdad, Iraq (File Photo: Reuters)
Baghdad - Fadhel al-Nashmi

The Iraqi government has pledged to investigate cases of abduction and violence against protesters and activists during anti-government demonstrations that erupted in October.

Hundreds were killed and thousands others injured as a result of the excessive use of force by security units and unknown armed forces.

The government made a statement in response to a report issued by the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) on Saturday, in which it detailed the cases of kidnapped and disappeared protesters. The report stated that 490 people were killed, over 7,000 injured, and dozens disappeared during the demonstrations.

The media office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi issued a statement saying the government reviewed UNAMI’s special report entitled “Abductions, torture and enforced disappearances in the context of ongoing demonstrations in Iraq” covering the period between October 1, 2019 and March 21, 2020.

The government “is committed to an impartial and independent investigation into all the events referred to in the report, in line with the ministerial program.”

Former governments often challenged information released by international organizations on human rights in Iraq.

UNAMI's report warned that “the pattern of abduction and torture of protestors and activists by unidentified armed actors typically referred to as ‘militia’, and the accompanying absence of accountability, requires immediate attention.”

The Mission noted that the abductions and disappearances occurred amid numerous incidents of additional violations and abuses targeting activists and protestors, including deliberate killings, shooting and knife attacks, threats and intimidation, and excessive and unlawful use of force at demonstration sites.

“A general absence of accountability for these acts continues to contribute to a pervasive environment of impunity in relation to reported violations and abuses linked to the demonstrations.”

UNAMI recommended that the new government make immediate efforts to ensure compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, including by making all efforts to locate those demonstrators and activists who remain missing.

It also called for immediate action to investigate all alleged cases of abduction, disappearance and torture and prosecute those responsible.

Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi reiterated his demands for prosecuting anyone responsible for the death of the demonstrators.

In a tweet on his official account, Allawi called for a public trial for the killers and asked for compensations for the families of slain protesters, the disabled, and the wounded.

He asserted his demand for setting a date for early elections and amending the electoral law, hoping the government’s pledges are not “false promises.”

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