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ICC Note: In an important step showing a response from the international community, the Human Rights Council of the UN held a special meeting on Monday to investigate the atrocities that have been committed in Iraq by ISIS. The joint body condemned the actions in the strongest possible terms and will dispatch investigators to more fully investigate the abuses. The Christian, Yazidi, and other religious minorities have been targeted for “particularly brutal persecution,” Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights said. The group also expressed particular concern for children affected by this, both as victims and those who are being recruited into joining in the fighting.

09/01/2014 Iraq (UN News Centre) – United Nations officials today urged an immediate end to the acts of violence and abuses committed against civilians in Iraq, particularly against children and people from various ethnic and religious communities, as the Human Rights Council met to discuss the ongoing crisis.

“The reports we have received reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale,” Flavia Pansieri, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in her opening remarks to the UN Human Rights Council’s special session on Iraq.

During the session, the Council adopted a resolution requesting the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to urgently dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups.

It also condemned “in the strongest possible terms” systematic violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law resulting from the terrorist acts committed by ISIL and associated groups “which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity…”

The 47-member body, based in Geneva, also strongly condemned in particular all violence against persons based on their religious or ethnic affiliation, as well as violence against women and children.

In her briefing, Ms. Pansieri said that the OHCHR team in Iraq continues to gather strong evidence that serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in areas under the control of ISIL and associated groups.

This includes targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, slavery, sexual and physical abuse and torture, and the besieging of entire communities on the basis of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation. Mosques, shrines, churches, and other religious sites and places of cultural significance have also been deliberately destroyed, she reported.

“The effect of the ongoing conflict on the children of Iraq has been catastrophic,” said Ms. Pansieri, noting that many have become direct victims of the conflict, while others have been subjected to physical and sexual abuse, whose scars may remain with them throughout their lives.

“Children belonging to ethnic and religious communities targeted by ISIL have endured particularly extensive violations of their rights,” she added.

Christian, Yezidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Kaka’e, Sabaeans and Shi’a communities have been targeted through “particularly brutal persecution,” as ISIL has ruthlessly carried out what she said may amount to ethnic and religious cleansing in areas under its control.

“The full extent of casualties is difficult to determine. Many have been killed directly; others have been besieged and deprived of food, water or medication,” she stated.

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