GENEVA – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties is seriously concerned about the situation in Iraq. We regret to monitor high death toll resulting from the excessive use of force by the Iraqi authorities in the face of peaceful protests against corruption and widespread unemployment in the country. The latest toll indicates that at least 100 demonstrators were killed and hundreds injured in various regions of Iraq since the outbreak of protests last Tuesday.
In a statement, the Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties called on the Iraqi government to stop the excessive use of force, including the use of live bullets against demonstrators and to exercise restraint
The violence will only lead to encrease of tension and further escalation. We call for an immediate and impartial investigation into the repression of demonstrators across the country with the aim to ensure that the aggressors are held accountable, including those who have issued orders to supress protests violently. .
We also call to stop arrests on the basis of participation in demonstrations and adherence to due process in case of any arrest, such as ensuring that a judge appears within 24 hours, and the right to a lawyer during interrogation.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to which Iraq is a state party – guarantees the right to peaceful protest and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The Covenant makes clear that restrictions on peaceful demonstrations must be exceptional and minimal, if they are “necessary in a democratic society” to protect “national security, public safety, public order, public health or morals, or the rights and freedoms of others.”
The Geneva Council condemns the Iraqi government for cracking down public demonstrations, including a curfew in Baghdad and Amarah, and to prevent the coordination of further demonstrations, blocked Internet access for the entire country except for Kurdish areas in the north. The Council pointes out that the demonstrations in Iraq, which enjoys high oil revenues, are justified in the light of rising unemployment and complaints of the spread of corruption and failure to repair the destroyed infrastructure in the country.
We stress that the Iraqi authorities should stop preventing peaceful demonstrations, arrests and intimidation against their organizers, respect the right to freedom of assembly, and use only the minimum force required in the event of violence in demonstrations in compliance with international norms and conventions guaranteeing the right to peaceful sit-in. The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties emphasises the seriousness of the continued violations of the rights and freedoms of Iraqis, suffering and enduring wars for many years.