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Iraq to investigate abductions, torture during protests following UN report

A UN report found dozens of Iraqis were abducted and tortured during anti-government protests [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 May, 2020

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Iraq's government said it would investigate the abduction and torture of Iraqis during ongoing anti-government protests outlined by a UN report published last week.

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Iraq, protests
Iraq's government on Tuesday said it would investigate reports of Iraqis abducted and tortured throughout the ongoing anti-government protests, following the revelations of a United Nations report published last week.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) found dozens of Iraqis who were either involved in anti-government protests or criticised authorities or armed groups on social media went missing between 1 October 2019 and 21 March 2020.

Abductees were forced into vehicles by masked and armed men close to demonstration sites, according to UNAMI. After being driven to locations where they were detained, the victims were "interrogated" by their captors and subjected to torture.

Male abductees told UNAMI they were beaten, electrocuted, doused in cold water, hung from ceilings by their arms and legs, urinated on, photographed nude, and threatened with death and harm to their families, UNAMI reported.

Female abductees said they were beaten, threatened with rape and touched in their "private areas".

Most ended up being released close to a highway or road, with several being told not to participate in demonstrations again and forced to sign documents of unknown content, according to UNAMI.

In a statement on Twitter, the Iraqi government said it had reviewed UNAMI's report and will launch an investigation into the matter.

"The [Iraqi Government] affirms its commitment to protecting human rights, to hold impartial and independent investigation, as stated in the government programme, into the events outlined in this report, and to respecting relevant international conventions that Iraq is party to," it said.

The UNAMI report also outlined a lack of accountability, as the few victims who pursued criminal complaints for their treatment either received no response from authorities or were encouraged not to pursue their cases further.

Iraq's protest movement, named the "October Revolution", called for sweeping changes and a decisive end to the current system imposed after the 2003 US occupation, which marked the inception of a ruling system shaped by sectarian and religious division.

Demonstrators were met with a brutal crackdown by security forces, with at least 700 killed and thousands injured.


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