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Last updated: January 2021

The Iraqi State actors include, for example, members of security forces and other authorities, such as provincial/local councils or other local officials, e.g. mukhtars. PMU are also generally considered State actors (see sub-section Popular Mobilisation Units and Tribal Mobilisation Militias). It should be noted that the distinction between official state forces and non-state forces is not always clear.

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) include the Iraqi army and the federal and local police. Moreover, numerous security, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies are responsible for maintaining order in Iraq and have overlapping responsibilities that include counter-terrorism, frontline fighting and law enforcement. Legal responsibility and power to arrest and detain are split across different security forces and their respective ministries [Actors of protection, 4.4, 5.1-5.3, 5.5-5.6; Security situation 2019,].

The Iraqi State authorities, in particular the ISF, have been involved in committing a wide range of human rights violations within the course of fighting ISIL and after their defeat in December 2017.

Although ISIL carried out the majority of abuses, it is reported that the government forces have been involved in unlawful killings, abuse and torture during arrest, pre-trial detention and after conviction, and in a wide range of other abuses. Security forces were reportedly engaged in arrests without warrants, detention for long periods before seeing a judge and detention in secret locations. Torture and ill-treatment in detention to obtain confessions or during investigations remained a serious issue. Reported abuses by ISF also include forcing family members to pay bribes to recover bodies, as well as alleged involvement in kidnappings, assassinations, robberies and other criminal activity. It is reported that sexual violence has been used by the Iraqi army and militias with apparent impunity. Denial of return to internally displaced persons (IDPs)’ areas of origin and denial of access to areas of displacement were also reported, as were abuses against IDPs, committed by elements of the ISF and associated forces [Targeting, 1.1.1, 1.3, 1.3.1; Actors of protection, 5.7.2]. In the context of protests, security forces have reportedly used excessive force against protesters resulting in numerous deaths [Protesters, 3.1.2]. Government agents have also reportedly targeted individuals in relation to the protest movement by means of arrests, intimidation, unlawful detention, etc. [Protesters, 3.1].