Human Rights Watch has accused Iraqi security forces of forcibly relocating at least 170 families of alleged Daesh members to a closed “rehabilitation camp” as a form of collective punishment.
Iraqi authorities shouldn’t punish entire families because of their relatives’ actions
said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“These abusive acts are war crimes and are sabotaging efforts to promote reconciliation in areas retaken from ISIS [Daesh].”
An Iraqi military spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced victory over Daesh in Mosul on Monday, ending three years of jihadist rule in the stronghold of their self-proclaimed caliphate.
“The camps for so-called ISIS families have nothing to do with rehabilitation and are instead de facto detention centres for adults and children who have not been accused of any wrongdoing,” Fakih said. “These families should be freely permitted to go where they can live safely.”
Iraqi authorities have opened the first of what they describe as “rehabilitation” camps in Bartalla, just east of Mosul. HRW says the official purpose of the camp is to enable psychological and ideological rehabilitation.
“Forced displacements and arbitrary detentions have been taking place in Anbar, Babil, Diyala, Saladin and Nineveh governorates, altogether affecting hundreds of families,” the group said.
“Iraqi security and military forces have done little to stop these abuses, and in some instances participated in them.”
Human Rights Watch said it visited Bartalla camp and interviewed 14 families, each with up to 18 members.
“New residents said that Iraqi Security Forces had brought the families to the camp and that the police were holding them against their will because of accusations that they had relatives linked to ISIS,” said Human Rights Watch.
“Medical workers at the camp said that at least 10 women and children had died traveling to or at the camp, most because of dehydration.”