'Alarming' number of threats over suspected IS-links in Iraq's Mosul: UN
Geneva (AFP) - The UN voiced alarm Friday at rising threats against civilians in Mosul suspected of ties to the Islamic State group as Iraqi forces battle to retake the city from the jihadists.
Iraqi forces are continuing their offensive into the last areas of the city seized in 2014 by IS, which imposed brutal rule on the inhabitants.
"As Mosul is increasingly liberated from ISIL, we are seeing an alarming rise in threats, specifically of forced evictions, against those suspected of being ISIL members or whose relatives are alleged to be involved with ISIL," said UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville, using another acronym for IS.
He said "hundreds of families have been threatened with forced displacement and such developments are extremely worrying."
Colville said the rights office had received reports of "so-called night letters left at families' houses or distributed in neighbourhoods," typically warning people to leave by a particular date or face forced expulsion.
He said these threats were often linked to tribal agreements demanding that any families affiliated with IS be excluded from specific areas.
"People are at real risk of forced eviction from their homes and losing access to basic necessities, including adequate housing, food, access to health services and education," Colville said.
He stressed that "illegal forced evictions and forcible displacement may amount to collective punishment and are in clear contravention of the Iraqi constitution, international human rights and international humanitarian law."
"Criminal liability is strictly personal to the individual involved in the commission of the crime for which she or he has been convicted by a court of law," he said.
The UN, he said, is calling on the Iraqi government to "take action to halt such imminent evictions or any type of collective punishment."
"Illegal forced evictions are acts of vengeance that are detrimental to national reconciliation and social cohesion," he said.