Newspaper article International New York Times

U.N. Team to Investigate Possible ISIS War Crimes in Iraq

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.N. Team to Investigate Possible ISIS War Crimes in Iraq

Article excerpt

The council adopted a resolution without a vote, calling for a team to be sent to Iraq to look into killings and other atrocities.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has decided to send a fact-finding team to Iraq to investigate possible war crimes by Islamic extremists after hearing senior human rights officials detail mass killings and other atrocities committed "on an unimaginable scale."

In the face of new depravities in Iraq, the Geneva-based council on Monday adopted, without a vote, a resolution sponsored by more than 100 states calling for the urgent dispatch of a fact-finding mission and required it to report back in March. Of the council's 47 members, only South Africa withheld support, saying the resolution was ambiguous and lacked balance.

The United Nations already has a 42-person team monitoring human rights in Iraq, working from Baghdad and other cities. But officials said the human rights council would now send an 11-person team that would operate separately, focusing on abuses arising from the behavior of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Sunni extremist group that has seized parts of northern Iraq and has boasted about its brutalities against nonbelievers.

More than a million people have fled the ISIS onslaught in recent weeks, Flavia Pansieri, the deputy high commissioner for human rights, told the council. She reported summary mass executions, forced conversions, abductions, slavery, sexual abuse, torture and the besieging of entire communities.

"The reports we have received reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale," Ms. Pansieri told diplomats as she opened the emergency session.

ISIS fighters killed at least 650 non-Sunni inmates of a Mosul prison, forcing them into ditches and shooting them, Ms. Pansieri said. Afterward, she said, "the bodies were then examined, and any men that appeared to be alive were shot in the head."

Detailing other atrocities, Ms. Pansieri said that 1,500 young conscripts in the Iraqi Army were missing after ISIS captured their base, and videos confirmed by witnesses showed hundreds of handcuffed men systematically shot. …

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