UK: No forcible returns to Iraq, says Amnesty

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about reports that the UK government will today (5 September) forcibly return up to 32 Iraqi Kurds to northern Iraq. Amnesty International considers that Kurdish areas in Iraq are neither stable nor safe.

An Amnesty International spokesperson said:

“Serious human rights violations have been committed in Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, including by Kurdish security forces. To assume that people can be returned to Iraq in safety and with dignity, just because they are returned to Kurdish areas, could have grave implications for people’s safety.”

In light of the lack of security and widespread human rights abuses in the country, Amnesty International believes that rejected Iraqi asylum-seekers should not be forced to return to any part of Iraq.

The security situation in Iraq has continued to deteriorate in the past few months. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and hundreds more injured in attacks by armed groups. Some died or were wounded in attacks aimed primarily at US-led forces but others were victims of direct attacks intended to cause the greatest possible civilian loss of life. Some attacks have been carried out indiscriminately by suicide bombers; others have been carefully targeted assassinations of police personnel or individuals connected to the Iraqi transitional government.

US-led forces too have been responsible for gross human rights violations against Iraqi civilians, including excessive use of force, often resulting in deaths, torture or other ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and long-term detention without charge or trial. Serious human rights violations have also been committed by Iraqi security forces.

While most of the violence reported in the media is taking place in Baghdad and in the areas west and northwest of the capital, armed insurgent attacks, killings, revenge-killings, and abductions do take place in the Kurdish areas in the north and in southern Iraq, but they rarely receive as much media coverage. The situation in the region is unpredictable, and there is considerable fear that the ongoing conflict and the sectarian violence is gradually expanding north and could spill over to the three northern governorates of the Kurdish region.

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