The United Nations has raised “serious concern” over what it called “unfair trials” of former members of Daesh by the Iraqi judiciary.
A spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) , Jeremy Laurence, told reporters in Geneva that a joint report was prepared by the United Nations Human Rights Office in Iraq (UNAMI) and OHCHR which covered 794 trials held between 1 May 2018 and 31 October 2019.
The report said that while judicial proceedings were “conducted in an orderly manner, were well organised, and judges were routinely prepared with investigation files … defendants had ineffective legal representation and limited possibilities to present or challenge evidence.”
The report added that “the over-reliance on confessions, with frequent allegations of torture that were inadequately addressed – while constituting a human rights violation in itself – further added to the concerns.”
“Prosecutions under the anti-terrorism legal framework mainly focused on membership of a terrorist organisation, without distinguishing between those who participated in violence, committed international crimes, and those who joined the Islamic State [Daesh] for survival and/or through coercion,” it said.
According to the report, some defendants were tried for “selling vegetables or preparing meals for members of the militant group”, or acting as human shields.