This is the 14th periodic report of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) on human rights violations in Iraq. The report sheds light on killings, arrests, and prosecutions within the ongoing targeting of human rights activists and critics of the current unstable situation. This report also documents the acts of violence that have affected the peaceful demonstrators who have been protesting against corruption and poor public services in the country, which have led to excessive suffering for Iraqis for decades.
Killings and assassinations of civil society activists
Despite the decrease in demonstrations and the approaching elections in the country, the killings of demonstrators and the assassinations of activists have not stopped. Furthermore, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s government has not been able to prosecute those responsible for these murders nor put an end to the death toll.
Human rights activists, in their conversations with GCHR, affirmed their lack of confidence in the Al-Kadhimi government regarding its commitment to end rampant human rights violations. They consider that the authorities have miserably failed to hold the killers of demonstrators accountable despite the many promises made, and have been unable to provide protection for those who remain alive.
Violence against women
Civil society organisations hope that this heinous crime will stimulate the competent authorities in Iraq to make serious efforts as soon as possible to enact a law that works to stop domestic violence, including gender-based violence, prosecute those responsible for it and provide real legal protection for children and women.
Imprisonment and detention of civil society activists
The prosecution of activists and demonstrators for expressing their opinions continues, either by arrests, or by threats of lawsuits.
Threats against bloggers and civil society activists
Activists and bloggers are exposed to threats during conversations in which they participate on the Clubhouse application.
Basketball is from a group of civil society activists who left their cities or Iraq in general to escape the brutality of armed groups and their constant threats of death, but it seems that these groups have recently started to resort to using the activists’ families as pressure points against their sons.
Kidnapping of a civil society activist and two demonstrators
Assassination of a lawyer in the city of Nasiriyah
Armed outlaw groups often resort to assassinations to neutralise prominent community activists and influential figures in society, including lawyers, in order to spread chaos in society and stop protests against corruption and poor conditions in the country. These attacks are frequent in the central and southern governorates, and although the protests occur much less frequently than their previous level, these attacks are still continuing.
Journalist kidnapped by a military force on eve of World Press Freedom Day
Demonstrations continue across the country
Despite the decline in the protests in Iraq, they have not stopped, and the protesters are keen to continue their protests from one day to the next, although they face risks. Sometimes activists are arrested, others are assassinated or kidnapped, and many times they are threatened. In addition, they are confronted with organised media smear campaigns by so-called “electronic flies” on social networking sites. Amid all this widespread targeting, the authorities have failed to provide the necessary protection for civil society activists and protesters.
Accountability for crimes against peaceful protesters and activists
The authorities have not taken any serious measures, including trying the perpetrators of the killers of hundreds of peaceful protesters, with some exceptions in which limited legal measures were taken against some members of the security forces.
GCHR urges the Iraqi government to:
- Make public the results of the investigation into cases related to the killing of protesters;
- Train the security forces, in cooperation with the competent international institution and civil society organisations, to deal peacefully and respectfully with all demonstrators in a manner consistent with the Iraqi Constitution, as their duty is to protect them and not attack them; and
- Provide full protection for protesters, including civil society activists, as well as those in sit-in squares in all Iraqi cities.