Amnesty: Iraq militias committing war crimes

Several militias operating in Iraq have been committing war crimes—using weapons manufactured in 16 different countries, including the US, Russia, China and Iran—according to a report (PDF) issued Jan. 5 by Amnesty International. The report discusses the actions of four particular militia groups—Munathamat Badr (Badr Brigades or Badr Organization), 'Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), Kata'ib Hizbullah (Hizbullah Brigades) and the Saraya al-Salem (Peace Brigades). These militias operate under the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in Iraq, which include 40 or 50 distinct militias. Iraq's prime minister designated these PMUs as an official part of the Iraqi military in February.

The report discusses four particular instances of human rights violations. In Diyala, Munathamat Badr and 'Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq have allegedly committed abductions, killings and torture of Sunni men and boys. In Anbar, 49 people have been reportedly killed and 643 remain missing after they were captured while fleeing fighting north of Falluja. Some witnesses who were released after being tortured stated they recognized the Kata'ib Hizbullah insignia on some of those committing the torture. In Salah al-Din, PMU militiamen have reportedly kidnapped, tortured and killed Sunni men who were fleeing ISIS in the area. At the Al-Razzaza checkpoint, one of the only safe pathways out of ISIS-controlled areas, Kata'ib Hizbullah members have allegedly seized 2,200 people since late 2014, only 65 of whom have ever reappeared.

The weapons the PMUs use are reportedly obtained from the Iraqi military and from Iran. These include US-made armored vehicles and tanks. Amnesty states that the US and other countries should not supply Iraq with arms unless Iraq's government can ensure that the weapons are only given to forces that can demonstrate that they "act consistently with full respect for international human rights and humanitarian law…under the effective command and control of the Iraqi armed forces and subject to rigorous accountability mechanisms."

From Jurist, Jan. 5. Used with permission.