I. Executive Summary
This special report, prepared by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), outlines preliminary findings and key human rights concerns regarding the demonstrations that occurred in Iraq from 1 to 9 October 2019. Violence during demonstrations caused at least 157 deaths and 5,494 injured people, including members of the Iraqi Security Forces.1 Factfinding conducted between 1 and 16 October indicates the occurrence of potentially serious violations of human rights.
UNAMI received credible reports of violations of the right to life, including deliberate killings of unarmed protesters and excessive use of force by units deployed to manage the demonstrations. This report also highlights concerns regarding the widespread use of repressive measures to limit publicly available information on the demonstrations, including arbitrary arrests, threats and harassment, confiscation of equipment, deletion of footage, attacks against media outlets as well as blanket restrictions on the dissemination of information through shutting down internet and blocking social media.
The international and domestic legal framework applicable in Iraq guarantees the right to life, the right to liberty and security of persons as well as the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, requiring the Government not only to allow assemblies to take place but also to enable peaceful protest, with measures in place to protect demonstrators.
UNAMI urges the Government to take concrete steps to prevent human rights violations and abuses during future demonstrations, to ensure accountability and to facilitate an enabling environment for the general public to exercise its rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
UNAMI calls on all demonstrators to exercise their right to assembly in peaceful and non-violent ways, in keeping with the law.