Baghdad, 12 December 2017 - A team from the Human Rights office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) conducted a mission to Tuz Khurmatu in Salah al-Din Governorate on 7 December 2017 to investigate reports of punitive destruction of property of residents who have been displaced by the clashes in the area in October and reports of intimidation to prevent the safe return of the displaced to their homes.

“Human Rights Day falls on 10 December every year, the day when, back in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the world’s most widely translated* and possibly most influential document – was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, itself just three years old at the time.”

This year’s commemoration of Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of seven decades since the adoption of one of the world’s most profound and far-reaching international agreements. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equality and dignity of every human being and stipulates that every government has a core duty to enable all people to enjoy all their inalienable rights and freedoms.

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Human rights are the foundation of peaceful societies and sustainable development.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equality and dignity of every person.

It makes governments responsible for ensuring people can enjoy their inalienable rights and freedoms.

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Dohuk, 7 December 2017 - Enhancing human rights education for students in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq was the focus of a three-day training course for 24 secondary school teachers in Dohuk.

Geneva, Switzerland, 27 November 2017 – The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office (HRO) launched a Study Tour for NGOs in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). The study tour focuses on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, including how NGOs can obtain consultative status. Representatives of 17 NGOs and related institutions in Iraq and the KR-I (12 men and 5 women) are benefiting from the study tour.

BAGHDAD / GENEVA (27 November 2017) - The Government of Iraq must ensure that the military defeat of ISIL translates into a victory for accountability and an end to impunity, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, has urged after an official mission.

“As the military threats from ISIL recede, the country has now entered a transitional phase which is both complex and fragile, presenting the opportunity to break with the past,” said Ms. Callamard in a statement at the end of her first visit to the country.

“There is a risk that old tensions arise where these have not been mended, and that grievances that were set aside for the duration of the conflict may return.”

Of the many urgent issues to be dealt with, Ms. Callamard urged the Government to ensure that all illegal deprivations of life – including those not related to the conflict - are promptly investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice.

“The Iraqi people have been subjected to inconceivable suffering at the hands of ISIL,” said the UN expert, whose visit took place from 14 to 23 November 2017.

“Justice for victims demands that the possible crimes against humanity be investigated. I welcome the government’s commitment to this. But hasty judgment and execution of ISIL members for acts of ‘terrorism’ is a disservice to the country.

The people of Iraq, the victims and survivors of the conflict, deserve a legal framework and a judicial response that properly reflect the nature of the crimes committed, which are on a par with atrocity crimes investigated and tried in other parts of the world. Such a role cannot be performed by a counter-terrorism law.”

Ms. Callamard urged the government to rapidly initiate legal reforms and equip domestic courts to try international crimes.

Ms. Callamard met victims of ISIL’s violence, visited camps housing people forced to flee their homes, and talked to expert teams working on the identification of the thousands of Iraqis buried in mass graves.

“I will always carry with me the voice of a young woman in a camp. ‘We don’t have to be like them,’ she told me. ‘We have seen enough killings. Do not execute more people.’ She had lost several family members to ISIL and insisted on accountability and prison sentences for ISIL members, speaking out against revenge,” Ms. Callamard stated.

The UN expert acknowledged that the military defeat of ISIL would open a new phase for Iraq. “To help ensure the promise of peace is secured on strong foundations, extrajudicial killings and disappearances in retaliation for ISIL’s crimes, such as those which occurred in the liberation of Fallujah and Mosul, must cease immediately and all must be investigated,” she said.

“Building a new Iraq requires the confidence of all communities. That will be achieved only if all allegations are thoroughly investigated, victims’ voices are heard and perpetrators are promptly brought to justice. It also demands prompt reparations and remedies for the victims.”

The Special Rapporteur also spoke to people particularly vulnerable to killings, such as journalists and people from the LGBTI community, whose protection she said had to be a priority for the Iraqi Government.

Ms. Callamard said so-called honour crimes remained a grave problem in Iraq, and Article 409 of the Penal Code – which reduces punishment for men who kill women for “honourable motives” – should be amended in line with changes already introduced in Iraqi Kurdistan, to end impunity for such acts.

Her preliminary findings also highlight the urgent need for the management of mass graves, the plight of families of people who have disappeared, and the role of religious and tribal leaders in the transitional phase and accountability.

Ms. Callamard urged the international community to support the transitional justice process, including by providing comprehensive and impartial assistance, and by paying equal attention to international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, no matter who had committed them.

“The ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court would allow the Government to obtain international support in ensuring accountability for international crimes committed in Iraq,” she added.

The Special Rapporteur, who visited the country at the invitation of the Iraqi authorities, thanked the Government for its cooperation. She will present a comprehensive report containing her findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2018.


Ms. Agnes Callamard (France) is the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. She has a distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work globally. Ms. Callamard is the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University and has previously worked with Article 19 and Amnesty International. She has advised multilateral organizations and governments around the world, has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries, and has published extensively on human rights and related fields.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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Erbil/Sulaymaniyah, 19 October 2017 - UNAMI Human Rights Office conducted on 16-19 October a specialized training and round table discussion in Kurdistan Region of Iraq on “Follow up on Universal Periodic Review in Line with the Regional Plan of Action (RPA) and UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies Recommendations” for representatives of civil society organizations.

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