Human Rights and Democracy Report 2016 - CHAPTER VI: Human Rights Priority Countries - Iraq

The human rights situation in Iraq remained of grave concern in 2016. Despite the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) reclaiming a large proportion of formerly Daesh-held territory, Daesh continued to commit atrocities in those areas that remained under their control, including targeting civilians in Eastern Mosul with mortar rounds and indiscriminate shooting. Reports allege that the ISF and Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were involved in torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killing against those fleeing the fighting in Fallujah and other areas. The Government of Iraq(GoI) has taken steps to address this issue, repeating its commitments to investigate all reports of abuses and violations and to ensure that those responsible are held to account. Reports also allege that the Kurdish Security Forces (KSF) have engaged in the unlawful demolition of buildings and homes in liberated areas. The Kurdish Regional Government also undertook to investigate all allegations of violations by the Kurdish Security Forces.

During 2016, we continued to engage with the GoI on human rights issues, particularly the protection of civilians during the military campaign, combating violence against women and girls, preventing sexual violence in conflict – including support for victims - and freedom of religion or belief. The UK has continued to support implementation of Iraq’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and provided funding for workshops to raise awareness of the importance of female participation in decision-making. But women and children from all communities continue to be at heightened risk of suffering violence.

We have supported efforts to promote religious tolerance across Iraq by encouraging key leaders, teachers and students to raise awareness of freedom of religion or belief.

The UN estimate that there are now over 3.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq and that 10 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Prime Minister Abadi stated that the protection of civilians and meeting the needs of the displaced population are priorities. The imperative to protect civilians has been at the forefront of the Mosul campaign. Through the Department for International Development (DFID), the UK has been one of the largest donors towards the UN’s Mosul Flash Appeal. The UK is also the largest contributor to the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund, through which we fund projects to meet the most urgent needs of displaced Iraqis. That includes emergency healthcare, water and sanitation, and protection services for women and girls. The UK committed £90m of humanitarian assistance in 2016, taking our total contribution since 2014 to £169.5m.

Iraq’s election to the UN Human Rights Council for 2017-19 provides an opportunity for the UK to deepen cooperation and coordination with the GoI on areas of mutual interest, in particular working to end sexual violence against women and girls, tackling modern slavery, and promoting women’s full participation in political and economic life. In addition, we will continue to focus strongly on protecting civilians during the Mosul campaign and providing humanitarian assistance to those most in need.