UN urges Iraq to probe deaths in protests

UN urges Iraq to probe deaths in protests

Friday, October 4, 2019 5:47 pm

Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations,

 Iraqi authorities should rapidly and independently investigate all actions by security forces that resulted in the deaths of demonstrators in anti-government unrest, a UN official said on Friday.

Spokesperson for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Marta Hurtado made this known in a statement.

On Thursday, a source in the country’s High Commission for Human Rights said that the death toll in Iraqi anti-government protests has risen to 31 people.

“All incidents in which the actions of security forces have resulted in death and injury should be promptly, independently and transparently investigated,” Hurtado said.

According to Hurtado, the UN human rights office is particularly concerned by reports that security forces fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas directly at protesters, leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds more wounded.

She urged the Iraqi government to allow its citizens to exercise the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

She stressed that any use of force should comply with international human rights norms and the principles of proportionality.

“In any event, the use of firearms is prohibited, except as a last resort to protect against an imminent threat of death or serious injury,” Hurtado added.

The demonstrations in Baghdad and several other areas in central and southern Iraq began on Tuesday, with the protesters demanding economic reforms and an end to corruption.

The rallies turned violent as law enforcement officers attempted to suppress the crowds.

On Thursday, the authorities introduced a curfew in Baghdad.

The measure was subsequently expanded to the provinces of Najaf, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Babylon and Wasit.

Border crossings between Iraq and Iran have been closed due to the ongoing unrest.

Moreover, the authorities have blocked internet access across Baghdad and several other regions in central and southern Iraq.

In a televised message, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced the creation of a committee to release previously detained protesters and said that all who had died in the protests would be considered “martyrs.”

He also promised to introduce payments to low-income families.

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