UN rights body debates sending ISIS probe to Iraq

Photo: UN rights body debates sending ISIS probe to Iraq
 / Arab World

The U.N. Human Rights Council was set Monday to debate demands for an emergency mission to Iraq to investigate "atrocities" committed by ISIS jihadists which "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," AFP reported.

The special session, due to begin at 10:00 am (0800 GMT), comes at the request of Iraq itself, with support from countries and blocs including the Arab Group, the European Union, Iran and the United States.

Diplomats from the council's 47 member states are to discuss a draft resolution condemning "in the strongest possible terms systematic violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law resulting from the terrorist acts committed by ISIS and associated groups."

The jihadists, who already occupied parts of Syria, launched an offensive in Iraq in June and rapidly seized much of its Sunni heartland, declaring a "caliphate" in a region straddling the two conflict-torn countries.

Their actions since then in several provinces of Iraq "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," the draft resolution said, condemning "all violence against persons based on their religious or ethnic affiliation as well as violence against women and children."

The text calls on the office of the U.N.'s brand new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordan's Prince Zeid al-Hussein, to dispatch investigators to Iraq to probe abuses carried out by the group that shocked the world last month with its filmed beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley.

Among these atrocities are "unlawful killing, deliberate targeting of civilians, forced conversions, targeted persecution of individuals on the basis of their religion or belief (and) acts of violence against members of ethnic and religious minorities."

The investigators would be required to give an update to the Human Rights Council at its next regular session which starts next week.

A full report would be expected at the council's most important annual session, scheduled for next February and March.

The text also urges the international community to "strengthen their efforts in assisting Iraq in restoring peace, stability and security in the areas controlled by ISIS and associated groups."

More than 1.6 million people have been displaced so far this year by the violence ravaging Iraq, with 850,000 fleeing their homes in August alone, according to U.N. figures.

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