Iraqi security officers are routinely denying relatives of suspected Islamic State (also known as ISIS) members the security clearance needed to obtain identity cards and other documents, Human Rights Watch said today. Denying government benefits because of perceived family relationships instead of individual security determinations is a form of collective punishment prohibited under international human rights law.
Iraqis lacking full civil documentation can readily be deprived of their basic rights. They cannot freely move around for fear of arrest, nor can they get a job or apply for welfare benefits. Children denied birth certificates may be considered stateless and may not be allowed to enroll in school. Women unable to obtain death certificates for their spouses are unable to inherit property or remarry.
“Iraq’s security forces are marginalizing thousands of families of ISIS suspects by depriving them of the basic documents they need to rebuild their lives,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless this collective punishment stops, the authorities will be further destabilizing the situation in Mosul and other former ISIS-held cities.”