Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation which focuses on human rights has claimed that militias fighting alongside Iraqi troops against the militant Islamic State group (IS or ISIS) are committing war crimes using weapons provided to the Iraqi military by the United States, Europe, Russia and Iran.
The rights group said on Thursday that the predominantly Shia Muslim militias, known collective as the Hashid Shaabi, were using weapons from Iraqi military stockpiles to commit war crimes including enforced disappearances, torture and summary killings. Hashid Shaabi has however rejected Amnesty’s accusation as “lies”.
Parliament voted for the Hashid to formally become part of Iraq’s armed forces in November but the session was boycotted by Sunni Muslim representatives, who worry the move will entrench Shia majority rule as well as Iran’s regional influence.
Iraqi and Western officials have expressed serious concern about the government’s ability to bring the Shia militias under greater control.
“International arms suppliers, including the USA, European countries, Russia and Iran, must wake up to the fact that all arms transfers to Iraq carry a real risk of ending up in the hands of militia groups with long histories of human rights violations,” Amnesty researcher Patrick Wilcken said.
States wishing to sell arms to Iraq should ensure strict measures to ensure weapons will not be used by militias to violate human rights, he added in a statement.
Hashid spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi denied Amnesty’s report.
“These lies falsify truths and contribute directly or indirectly to the continuation of struggles that the Iraqi people and the people of neighbouring countries suffer from,” he told a news conference aired by state television.
“This is very clear in this report when it is purposefully slandering an official government institution,” he added, calling for an inquiry into Amnesty’s sources.