HRW slams Iraq for hiding, destroying evidence of abuses during IS operations

The HRW official called on the Iraqi Prime Minister to conduct a “transparent and public” investigation.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to make public the results of investigations his government carried out into abuses during the military campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul.

According to the human rights organization, an incident in March in which officials from Baghdad removed about 80 bodies from a damaged house before burning it a few days later raised suspicions of a cover-up of killings of possible IS suspects.

“Given the serious abuses in the final weeks of the battle against IS in Mosul’s Old City, this site and the bodies should have been preserved as potential evidence for forensic investigators,” Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said.

Last year, Abadi said his government had established a committee to investigate over 20 reports of abuse during the Mosul offensive, adding it had arrested several officers found guilty of carrying out extrajudicial killings of IS members.

However, HRW says no information has been made public by the Iraqi government since then.

“Prime Minister [Abadi] promised to investigate these possible war crimes, but with no tangible results almost a year later, the actions of his own officials at this site speak louder than words,” Fakih added.

The HRW official called on the Iraqi Prime Minister to conduct a “transparent and public” investigation and “take concrete steps to protect possible evidence of war crimes,” especially if he wants to change “Iraq’s culture of impunity for forces committing the most horrific abuses.”

Iraqi troops, with the help of Kurdish Peshmerga forces and US-led coalition airstrikes, liberated Mosul in July 2017.