Geneva- The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said that the deployment of police snipers and Iraqi security personnel on the roofs of government and public buildings, and taking shooting positions to target protesters during their peaceful protests is a serious violation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and is a crime against humanity.

   The Iraqi authorities should identify the entities they belong to and bring all of them to justice in accordance with the Iraqi law and the norms of international law   

Omar Abdullah, a researcher at the Euro-Med

 

The Euro-Med monitored that snipers targeted protesters and caused deaths, while others were seriously injured in three locations in Baghdad and in the southern Iraqi governorates.

According to testimonies, snipers took position on the top of the roofs of public tax buildings in al-Khalani Square, the Iranian Embassy, Mansour Melia Hotel, and the Supreme Council Court in Rusafa in Baghdad. In addition, armed police occupied the Waqf building overlooking the Tahrir Square in the center of the Iraqi capital.

During the early days of the protests, deadly bullets penetrated the upper parts of eight protesters at the Tahrir Square and at a nearby bridge leading to the Green Zone, which is home for the US Embassy and the Iraqi government headquarters.

According to human and medical sources, around 30 protesters were killed by snipers in Baghdad and a number of governorates in the southern part of the country.

Videos acquired by the Euro-Med shows heavy shootings by Iraqi security personnel against thousands of protesters in Baghdad and in the southern provinces of Iraq.

In one of the videos shared on social media, protesters made distress calls because of the heavy fire that targeting them, and a number of people were killed and dozens were injured during the protest near the Tahrir Square in central Baghdad.

“The Iraqi authorities should curb the use of force by the security forces by ordering them to stop attacking peaceful demonstrators and by investigating the incidents to hold accountable all those who ordered and carried out the shootings. In addition, they should identify the entities they belong to and bring all of them to justice in accordance with the Iraqi law and the norms of international law," Omar Abdullah, a researcher at the Euro-Med said.

Abdullah added that dozens of protesters who were killed during the demonstrations did not pose an imminent threat to anyone when the snipers shot at them, nor did they did participate in hostilities.

According to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission, the number of victims of the ongoing protests across Iraq since last Tuesday rose to 100, while 4000 others were injured. The number of detainees has increased to 567, 355 of them were released, while the fate of dozens of them is still unknown.

The demonstrations are continuing across Iraq for the fifth day in a row, and the first of their kind against the current government, which will complete its first year in power at the end of October.

The demonstrators used slogans against the killings, the country's rampant corruption as well as against what they called the governing class.

Iraq is the 12th most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International.

The Iraqi police and security practices violate the rules of international law and the conventions that provide special protection for civilians, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, in particular Article 3 of the Four Geneva Conventions,  which specifically prohibits murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment, and the taking of hostages and unfair trials.

The Euro- Med stressed that the practices of some security members by targeting civilians directly, whether by snipers or forces, constitutes a serious violation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. These practices fall within the framework of crimes against humanity, which requires taking moves in order to bring International Criminal Accountability of the individuals who committed these crimes, in addition to the military commanders who ordered the shootings of demonstrators.

The Euro- Med pointed out that the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by law enforcement officials, adopted by the UN Conference, noted that officials should reduce casualties and losses as much as possible, and preserve human life. Stressing the criminalization of the intentional use of lethal weapons, the principles noted that force could be used only to preserve life.