Iraq: UN ‘deeply concerned’ at continued protester deaths

29 November 2019

UN chief António Guterres has expressed deep concern over reports of the continued use of live ammunition against demonstrators in Iraq.  

This has led to a rising number of deaths and injuries, Mr. Guterres said in a statement – including in the southern city of Nasiriyah.   

“The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the Iraqi authorities to exercise maximum restraint, protect the lives of demonstrators, respect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and swiftly to investigate all acts of violence,” said the statement, issued late Thursday evening. 

Mr. Guterres also reminded the Iraqi authorities of their obligation to protect diplomatic and consular facilities and personnel, as well as public and private property.   

Echoing the UN chief’s appeal to protect the lives of demonstrators, respect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly and investigate the violence, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Friday that United Nations staff in Iraq had confirmed that at least 24 people had been killed and more than 210 were injured in Nasiriyah.  

Others were also killed and injured in Naj af, the OHCHR spokesperson said, while the overall number of casualties verified by the UN since protests began at the beginning of October now stands at 354 dead and 8,104 injured.   

“Once again, we urge the Iraqi authorities to take much firmer and more effective action to ensure security forces do not employ excessive use of force, and in particular use of live ammunition, as they have been doing repeatedly since the protests began. There must also be investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for unlawful killings. 

Earlier on Friday, the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said on Twitter that the increasing numbers of deaths and injuries in the country cannot be tolerated. 

“The presence of spoilers, derailing peaceful protests, places Iraq on a dangerous trajectory,” warned Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who also announced that on Tuesday, 3 December, she will brief the UN Security Council on the latest developments. 

 

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