By Amnesty International.

Iraq: Stop security forces from threatening, forcibly disappearing and abusing activists

The Iraqi authorities must immediately end a relentless campaign of intimidation and assault against activists in Baghdad and reveal the whereabouts of others, among them a doctor and a lawyer forcibly disappeared more than 10 days ago, Amnesty International said on Friday.

The organization has spoken to 11 activists, relatives of detained activists, as well as journalists and lawyers from Baghdad, Diwaniya, Basra and Amarah.

Their testimony shows that Iraqi security forces are systematically targeting anyone speaking out against the conduct of security forces during the protests.

More here.

(Source: Amnesty International)

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Prepared by GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Team in Iraq, this essential report includes short- and medium-term outlooks on the security situation, reports and commentary on recent significant events, and a detailed overview of developments across the country.

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The Iraqi cabinet has sacked 61 officials over recent protests that killed more than 100 people and injured thousands earlier this month, Anadolu reports.

Leaked documents obtained by Anadolu Agency showed that the decision was taken during a cabinet meeting on Oct. 14.

Protests rocked the capital Baghdad and southern provinces earlier this month against high unemployment and government corruption.

An Iraqi court on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for two police officers in connection with the death of protesters during the demonstrations.

Iraq ranks 18 on Transparency International’s corruption scale, which goes from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Discontent has been growing in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many in the country have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water, and unemployment is around 10%.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi (pictured) praised the Baghdad government’s move to remove visa restrictions for Iranian pilgrims visiting the Arab country during the Arbaeen season and said the Islamic Republic will do the same for the Iraqi nationals in the near future.

Speaking at a meeting of the Arbaeen Headquarters of the western province of Ilam on Tuesday, Masjedi hailed the recent reopening of the Khosravi border crossing and the removal of visa restrictions for Iranians during the Arbaeen season, which marks the 40th day of the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam.

He further said Iraqi nationals will soon be allowed to enter Iran without visas for 65 days.

To reciprocate Iraq’s move regarding visa-free travels for Iranian pilgrims, Iran plans to allow Iraqi nationals to enter the country without visas for 65 days as of October 24, he added.

Speaking on Monday, Hossein Zolfaqari, Iran’s deputy interior minister for security affairs, said three million pilgrims had crossed the country’s four borders with Iraq for Arbaeen pilgrimage by then.

This year, the four borders of Khosravi, Mehran, Chazzabeh, and Shalamcheh are open to the Arbaeen pilgrims.

Arbaeen, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam.

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiites flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, to perform mourning rites.

In August, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement in Tehran to reopen the Khosravi border crossing and remove visa restrictions for Iranian Arbaeen pilgrims.

Iran and Iraq also agreed to raise the level of services and facilities for the pilgrims and enhance border security during the Arbaeen season, which will culminate in a large gathering in Karbala on October 19.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

The decision by the Iraqi authorities to cut the internet in an attempt to thwart demonstraters is reported to have cost the economy nearly a billion dollars.

According to AFP, from the second day of unrest, the internet was restricted and the day after authorities ordered it cut entirely; a fortnight later, social media websites are still blocked.

More here.

(Source: AFP)

On Saturday night (12/10) almost 200 Syrian Kurds started crossing the border into Iraq’s Kurdistan Region (KRI) to escape bombardments in North Eastern Syria. The families crossed unofficial entry points into KRI, through the villages of Masaka and Sahela.

A day after their entry into Iraq, 182 Syrians were brought by local security forces to a processing center near the Sahela border in Duhok, KRI’s northernmost governorate.

IOM deployed Rapid Assessment and Response Teams (RART) in Sahela, to receive the Syrian families and evaluate their fitness to travel further.

Three medical professionals, including one psychologist, were on-site to carry out emergency health assessments. Roughly 30 patients sat for consultations; children were mostly found to be suffering from upper respiratory tract infections, tonsillitis and the flu; while among adults some of the health issues examined by the doctors were post-surgery complications, hyperthyroidism, and asthma.

The medical team also assisted two pregnant women, who were found to be in stable condition.

All patients were examined and given the necessary treatment where available. For cases that could not be treated immediately, follow up care will be organized.

At the processing centre, IOM has also provided food and drinks for the families. All individuals were then transferred by bus to Domiz 1 – a refugee camp in Duhok Governorate.

“IOM Iraq is gravely concerned by the emerging crisis in Northern Syria, that is putting thousands of already vulnerable individuals in harm’s way,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

“In collaboration with UN partners, IOM Iraq will support Syrians as they cross the border, and protect and assist those in need.”

IOM Iraq will continue to monitor arrivals the border. A REMAP study, linked to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) initiative, will be carried out to assess the numbers of Syrians crossing into Iraq through official border points.

IOM Iraq will support the UN response to these inflows by providing transportation that can take Syrian families from the reception facilities to the camps; Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) services; health assessments (including mental health and psychosocial consultations) especially at the border; by monitoring flows for the production of DTM reports; providing shelter kits and other non-food items as needed; and by communicating with communities to facilitate information sharing.

(Source: UN)

On Saturday night (12/10) almost 200 Syrian Kurds started crossing the border into Iraq’s Kurdistan Region (KRI) to escape bombardments in North Eastern Syria. The families crossed unofficial entry points into KRI, through the villages of Masaka and Sahela.

A day after their entry into Iraq, 182 Syrians were brought by local security forces to a processing center near the Sahela border in Duhok, KRI’s northernmost governorate.

IOM deployed Rapid Assessment and Response Teams (RART) in Sahela, to receive the Syrian families and evaluate their fitness to travel further.

Three medical professionals, including one psychologist, were on-site to carry out emergency health assessments. Roughly 30 patients sat for consultations; children were mostly found to be suffering from upper respiratory tract infections, tonsillitis and the flu; while among adults some of the health issues examined by the doctors were post-surgery complications, hyperthyroidism, and asthma.

The medical team also assisted two pregnant women, who were found to be in stable condition.

All patients were examined and given the necessary treatment where available. For cases that could not be treated immediately, follow up care will be organized.

At the processing centre, IOM has also provided food and drinks for the families. All individuals were then transferred by bus to Domiz 1 – a refugee camp in Duhok Governorate.

“IOM Iraq is gravely concerned by the emerging crisis in Northern Syria, that is putting thousands of already vulnerable individuals in harm’s way,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

“In collaboration with UN partners, IOM Iraq will support Syrians as they cross the border, and protect and assist those in need.”

IOM Iraq will continue to monitor arrivals the border. A REMAP study, linked to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) initiative, will be carried out to assess the numbers of Syrians crossing into Iraq through official border points.

IOM Iraq will support the UN response to these inflows by providing transportation that can take Syrian families from the reception facilities to the camps; Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) services; health assessments (including mental health and psychosocial consultations) especially at the border; by monitoring flows for the production of DTM reports; providing shelter kits and other non-food items as needed; and by communicating with communities to facilitate information sharing.

(Source: UN)

Highlights

  • Approximately 4,200 families across Iraq departed from camps while almost 500 families arrived in camps in August. The number of camp departures nearly doubled in August compared to July.
  • Camp closures and consolidations resulting in forced evictions, forced relocations and coerced departures continued in Anbar, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din Governorates.
  • Families with perceived affiliation with extremists continue to endure collective punishment in the form of arrest and detention, confiscation of documents, physical and verbal abuse and denial of return.

Camp Closures, Forced Evictions and Relocations and Involuntary Returns

Based on data provided by the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, the number of families who departed camps across Iraq nearly doubled from the previous month as 4,226 families (19,965 individuals) departed in August compared to 2,312 families (11,492 individuals) in July.

In addition, nearly 90 per cent of families who arrived in camps in August were in secondary displacement as 454 families (1,862 individuals) out of the 499 families (2,113 individuals) newly arrived in camps were in secondary displacement.

Such increase in the number of camp departures as well as the high percentage of secondary displacement can be attributed to the camp closures and increased security measures that led to forced evictions, forced relocations to other camps and involuntary returns of IDPs across the country.

In Anbar Governorate, IDPs in Amriyeat Al Fallujah (AAF) camp and Habaniyah Tourist City (HTC) camp expressed concerns about continued movement restrictions imposed by the government forces impacting their access to livelihoods and health care.

In both camps, some IDPs expressed their willingness to stay in the camps due to security concerns in their areas of origin, while others stated they intended to return but are unable to due to infrastructure and housing destruction, tribal issues and lack of job opportunities in their areas of origin. Nevertheless, as a result of severe movement restrictions, many families decided to return.

In line with the recent high-level decision made by Iraqi national security authorities in Baghdad, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) issued a letter to camp management in Hammam Al-Alil (HAA) camp in Ninewa informing that 35 families from Anbar would be returned to their areas of origin.

Under the auspices of the government forces, on 23 August, MoDM transported 37 families (140 individuals) from HAA camps to HTC camp in Anbar. Upon departure, 16 families reported being relocated against their will, and several others reported being mistreated during the convoy travel.

(Source: UNCHR)

The Iraqi government has announced that it had turned nine senior former officials over to the judiciary regarding corruption charges, and pledged to turn others over soon, news agencies reported.

In a statement, the Iraqi Supreme Anti-Corruption Council referred corruption cases of “nine high-ranking officials to the judiciary after the completion of the legal procedures supported by evidence.”

The council stressed that more cases of corruption “will be referred successively to the judiciary.”

However, monitors believe that this measure was announced in order to deescalate the mass protests which have been sweeping the country, protesting corruption, unemployment and lack of public services.

They claim that the government is not dedicated to fighting corruption, as all of the named officials are currently out of the country.

Addressing the Iraqis on Wednesday, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi declared that he would refer a number of senior officials to the courts over corruption charges.

Early this month, the Anti-Corruption Council announced turning 1,000 public servants over to the judiciary, due to corruption charges.

Iraqi officials stated that the judicial authority had formed a special committee in cooperation with the Anti-Corruption Council, to take decisions regarding these people as soon as possible.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

The Iraqi government has announced that it had turned nine senior former officials over to the judiciary regarding corruption charges, and pledged to turn others over soon, news agencies reported.

In a statement, the Iraqi Supreme Anti-Corruption Council referred corruption cases of “nine high-ranking officials to the judiciary after the completion of the legal procedures supported by evidence.”

The council stressed that more cases of corruption “will be referred successively to the judiciary.”

However, monitors believe that this measure was announced in order to deescalate the mass protests which have been sweeping the country, protesting corruption, unemployment and lack of public services.

They claim that the government is not dedicated to fighting corruption, as all of the named officials are currently out of the country.

Addressing the Iraqis on Wednesday, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi declared that he would refer a number of senior officials to the courts over corruption charges.

Early this month, the Anti-Corruption Council announced turning 1,000 public servants over to the judiciary, due to corruption charges.

Iraqi officials stated that the judicial authority had formed a special committee in cooperation with the Anti-Corruption Council, to take decisions regarding these people as soon as possible.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)