Iraq is not capable of trying atrocities committed by Islamic State during
the battle for Mosul so it must find other routes to justice such as the International Criminal
Court (ICC), a U.N. human rights report said on Thursday.
FILE PHOTO: Cars burnt and destroyed by clashes are seen on a street during a battle between Iraqi forces and
Islamic State militants, in Mosul, Iraq March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani/File Photo
At least 2,521 civilians were killed during the nine-month battle including 741 people who were
executed, the report said. Most died as a result of Islamic State (ISIL) attacks.
It cited testimonies of mass abductions by Islamic State, as well as killings, the use of human
shields, and deliberate targeting of civilians and their homes.
ISIL planted “a huge number” of improvised explosive devices and used drones to drop
explosives in Mosul, a city of 1.5 million, as well as setting fire to sulphur fields and oil wells, it
Its forces desecrated religious sites and last June blew up the al-Nuri mosque from which its
leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had declared the caliphate spanning parts of Iraq and Syria in
2014, it said.
“Iraqi courts and tribunals do not have jurisdiction over international crimes (such as genocide,
crimes against humanity and war crimes) - and prosecutors, police investigators and judges lack
capacity to ... (investigate), charge and try persons in relation to such crimes,” the report said,
calling for it to amend domestic law.
Iraqi law did not do enough to guarantee due process or fair trials, it said.
Accepting the jurisdiction of the Hague-based ICC and finding other ways to ensure crimes were
tried by a competent court “would reassure the international community that Iraq is serious”
about getting justice, which was key to rebuilding trust and reconciliation, it said.
At least 74 mass graves have been discovered since June 2014 in areas previously held by ISIL
in Iraq, the U.N. report said.
These included in Sinjar, the northwestern city where the U.N. has said Islamic State committed
genocide against the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi religious minority whom the Sunni militants view
Iraq and the international community have a duty to ensure those crimes are prosecuted,
Syracuse University professor and former war crimes prosecutor David Crane said on
Wednesday in a separate report into the genocide, issued by his law school’s Syrian
“Bringing ISIS to justice for genocide against the Yazidi community, at the domestic or the
international level, will depend on the strategic preservation of forensic evidence,” Crane’s
The U.N. report also called on Iraqi authorities to investigate crimes allegedly committed by
Iraqi-backed forces during the operation, including mass abductions and unlawful killings.
It called for a separate investigation into air strikes by the international coalition.
It said the U.N. had recorded 461 civilian deaths from air strikes during the most intensive phase
of the battle for western Mosul, from Feb. 19.
(c) 2017 Reuters