UN human rights chief urges better protection for Iraq’s religious communities

4 November 2010
Iraqi Christians mourn those killed at Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today strongly condemned this week’s attacks on religious communities in Iraq and urged the Iraqi Government to do more to protect civilians in an effort to prevent a “deadly” upsurge in sectarian violence.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today strongly condemned this week’s attacks on religious communities in Iraq and urged the Iraqi Government to do more to protect civilians in an effort to prevent a “deadly” upsurge in sectarian violence.

The High Commissioner’s call follows yesterday’s condemnation by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the recent spate of attacks, in which scores of civilians lost their lives and hundreds more were wounded.

On Tuesday, 68 civilians were killed and hundreds wounded in a series of explosions in at least ten mostly Shi’a neighborhoods in Baghdad, while at least 50 civilians were killed and dozens of others wounded on Sunday during the attempted rescue of worshippers who had been taken hostage in a Catholic Church.

While noting that bringing the perpetrators to justice is essential, but not easy in a country still recovering from years of conflict and violence, Pillay urged the Iraqi Government to take immediate concrete measures to provide better protection for vulnerable groups and minorities.

“I realize that dealing with the out-and-out terrorist groups is not an easy task. However, I believe much more could be done to protect groups which are clearly targets and who are particularly vulnerable,” Pillay said. “And it needs to be made clear to everyone in Iraq that sectarian attacks against any group are unacceptable and will be dealt with severely, under the law, no matter who is responsible.”

The High Commissioner added that Iraqi authorities should ensure that religious sites and other likely targets are adequately protected, and reach out and demonstrate to different communities that their safety is of paramount concern to the Government.

“As part of this process, when attacks do occur, the authorities should launch thorough investigations, conduct prosecutions and promptly provide redress to victims, as well as constantly reviewing and improving the steps they are taking to prevent further attacks,” Pillay said.

Speaking after the Sunday attacks, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq, Ad Melkert, said that to ensure the country’s ability to protect its citizens, every effort should be exerted by Iraqi leaders to expedite agreement on formation of the government and other outstanding issues.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.