A masked Islamic State militant holding a knife speaks next
to man purported to be U.S. journalist James Foley at an
unknown location in this still image from an undated video
posted on a social media website.
The United Nations has agreed to send investigators to
Iraq to examine crimes being committed by Islamic State
militants on "an unimaginable scale", with a view to holding
perpetrators to account.
"We are facing a terrorist monster," Iraq's human rights
minister, Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani, told the U.N. Human
Rights Council which adopted a resolution tabled by Iraq and
France at an emergency sitting of the 47-member state forum
The Council aims to send 11 investigators, with a total
budget of $US1.18 million, to report back by March 2015.
Islamic State, which declared a "caliphate" in June in parts
of Iraq and Syria under its control, has been cited as a
major security threat by Western governments since posting a
video in August of the beheading of U.S journalist James
The Sunni militants have driven more than 1.2 million people
from their homes this year, the United Nations says. At least
1,420 people were killed in sectarian violence in Iraq in
August alone, UN figures showed.
UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri
said there was "strong evidence" Islamic State, also known as
ISIS, and allied groups had carried out targeted killings,
forced conversions, sexual abuse and torture in Iraq.
"The reports we have received reveal acts of inhumanity on an
unimaginable scale," she said.
Pansieri voiced concern at the persecution of Christians,
Yazidis, Shia, and Turkmen, saying such "ethnic and religious
cleansing" may amount to crimes against humanity.
Children belonging to targeted minorities have been forcibly
recruited and positioned on front lines to shield fighters or
made to donate blood, she said. Women are beaten for breaking
rules requiring them to be veiled and escorted by men.
Al-Sudani told the session that Islamic State, "oozing with
barbarity", was threatening the makeup of his country.
"The land of ancient Babylon is subjected to threats,
starting with threats to its very independence. They are
attempting to change its demographic and cultural
composition," he said, adding: "Acts by ISIS threaten not
only Iraq but the whole region and world."
Pansieri raised concerns that Iraqi government forces had
also engaged in acts that may amount to war crimes.
She said government-allied militias had opened fire on a
mosque in Khanaqin district, northeast of Baghdad, killing 73
men and boys. Iraqi soldiers had shelled towns and carried
out air strikes killing and injuring dozens of civilians, she
The US envoy to the rights forum, Keith Harper, urged Iraq's
prime minister designate, Haider al-Abadi, to form a
multi-ethnic government that would investigate allegations
against government forces and "terrorist groups".
"The stories that have emerged from ISIL's bloody assault on
Iraq are the ones of nightmares. Christians and others have
been driven from their homes with the threat of 'convert or
die'," Harper said.
"The Yazidis have been buried alive, beheaded or killed in
Al Sudani, asked whether the UN investigators would look into
alleged crimes by government forces, said they would focus on
those committed by the Sunni militants and that the Baghdad
government would look into allegations against state forces.
"These are allegations of crimes perpetrated by the
government and we have a transparent investigation by our own
government which will soon be deposited with all concerned
members of the Human Rights Council," he told Reuters