8 Sep 2014
The new UN Human Rights Chief says attempts by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIL to govern parts of Iraq and Syria is an affront to the promotion and protection of human rights in the region.
In his maiden statement to the UN Human Rights Council Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the ISIL group has demonstrated absolute and deliberate disregard for human rights.
Mr Zeid said the systematic attacks on segments of the civilian population because of their ethnic background or religious beliefs, may constitute a crime against humanity for which those responsible must be held accountable.
He called on the international community to make every effort to protect minority groups, children – who are at risk of forcible recruitment and sexual violence and women, who have been the targets of severe restrictions.
“From a human rights perspective, it is clear that the immediate and urgent priority of the international community should be to halt the increasingly conjoined conflicts in Iraq and Syria. The Takfiris who recently murdered James Foley and hundreds of other defenseless victims in Iraq and Syria – do they believe they are acting courageously? Barbarically slaughtering captives? What virtue are they demonstrating exactly? They reveal only what a Takfiri state would look like, should this movement actually try to govern in the future. It would be a harsh, mean-spirited, house of blood, where no shade would be offered, nor shelter given, to any non-Takfiri in their midst. International law requires that both the State and armed groups take all measures to minimize the impact of violence on civilians, respect the principles of distinction and proportionality when carrying out military operations, and ensure that civilians can leave areas affected by violence in safety and dignity.”
Mr Zeid also called for an end to the seven year blockade on Gaza by Israel.
He said the worsening human rights situation in conflict ravaged states including Libya, Ukraine, South Sudan and the Central African Republic is a matter of grave concern and called on all parties to the conflicts comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.