Press briefing note on Iraq

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva 
Date: 25 October 2019
Subject:  Iraq


The main protests in Iraq began on 1 October when young people frustrated by the lack of employment opportunities, lack of services, corruption and failures of government took to the streets.

Violence during the demonstrations, which continued until 9 October, caused at least 157 deaths and injured 5,494 people. A UN human rights report released by UNAMI on Tuesday (22 October), set out credible reports of violations of the right to life, including deliberate killings of unarmed protesters and the excessive use of force by units deployed to manage the demonstrations. The report also highlights concerns regarding the widespread use of repressive measures to limit publicly available information on the demonstrations as well as allegations of arbitrary arrests, threats and harassment. And it also called on all demonstrators to exercise their right to assembly in peaceful and non-violent ways, in keeping with the law.

The Government also issued its own Investigative Report on 22 October, and we urge it to act on the calls for accountability for perpetrators contained in both reports.

Large protests are expected in Iraq today, and indeed were already underway late yesterday. We urge calm on all sides, and in particular a carefully calibrated and proportionate response by security forces in full accordance with international standards, so the terrible toll of life and property during the protests at the beginning of the month are not repeated.  We are also concerned with the continued blocking of social media and intermittent blocking of the internet.