UNAMI – Baghdad, 5 November 2019
UNAMI has found that serious human rights violations and abuses continued to occur during the second wave of demonstrations that started in Iraq on 25 October. A second report, prepared by the UNAMI Human Rights Office, was published today. It follows an earlier special report which covered the 1-9 October protests and was published on 22 October.
The latest report indicates that demonstration-related violence from 25 October to 4 November caused at least 97 further deaths, and thousands of injuries. Although Iraqi security forces displayed more restraint than in the early October protests, particularly in Baghdad, the unlawful use of lethal and less-lethal weapons by security forces and armed elements requires urgent attention.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, stated: “This report also highlights areas where immediate action is needed to stop the vicious circle of violence, and stresses once again the imperative of accountability”.
The report attributes at least 16 deaths – and many serious injuries – to demonstrators being struck by tear gas canisters. “There is no justification for security forces to fire tear gas canisters or sound and flash devices directly at unarmed demonstrators”, said Danielle Bell, Chief of the UNAMI Human Rights Office.
The report furthermore highlights concerns regarding continued efforts to suppress media coverage as well as an ongoing block on social media. Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert added: “We must recognise that in today’s digital age, daily life has moved online. A blanket shutdown of internet and social media is not only disruptive to the way people live their lives and do business: it infringes freedom of expression”.