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UN diplomats examine Islamic State alleged crimes

September 1, 2014
Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — Iraq's government asked the U.N.'s top human rights body Monday to investigate alleged crimes against civilians committed by the Islamic State group in its rampage across northeastern Syria and northern and western Iraq.

Diplomats were weighing the request at a daylong special session of the 47-nation Human Rights Council on Iraq and the extremist group. A draft resolution put forward by Iraq would set up a U.N. fact-finding mission to investigate alleged abuses by the group.

The session Monday was focused on the threat posed by the Islamic State group, which has seized cities, towns and vast tracts of land and carried out a number of massacres and beheadings.

Iraq's human rights minister, Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani, said his country needs the world's support because the Islamic State "is not an Iraqi phenomenon, it is a transnational organization that is an imminent danger for all countries of the world."

"Their movement must be curbed. Their assets should be frozen and confiscated. Their military capacities must be destroyed," he said.

Diplomats convened after the U.S. launched a series of airstrikes to prevent the group from advancing on the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil and to help protect members of the Yazidi minority who were stranded in Iraq's northwest.

In Geneva, U.N. officials expressed grave concern Monday at the reported atrocities in Iraq committed by both sides.

Flavia Pansieri, the U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights, said the Islamic State's widespread, systematic persecution of ethnic and religious groups likely amounts to a crime against humanity. She said Iraqi government forces' execution of detainees and its shelling of civilian areas may also amount to war crimes.

Keith Harper, the U.S. ambassador for human rights in Geneva, told the council that as a co-sponsor of the Iraq resolution the U.S. is appalled at the Islamic State's "heinous acts" that include extrajudicial killings, enslavement, deliberate targeting of civilians, sexual assault, and religious persecution.

He also pointed a finger at the Iraqi government.

"We urge the Iraqi government to take an even-handed approach to the investigation of all human rights violations and abuses, including allegations against government actors as well as terrorist groups," Harper said.



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