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Last updated: June 2022

There are four security institutions in federal Iraq under the command of the prime minister.

Firstly, the Ministry of Defence, which includes ground forces such as Army Divisions, Special Forces, the Special Security Division and the Commando Brigades, secondly the Ministry of Interior which includes the Emergency Response Division, the Federal Police and the Border Guard Forces, thirdly the Counter Terrorism Service and as last the Popular Mobilisation Committee (PMC). The first three categories are referred to as the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

PMF are also generally considered State actors, see the 1.2 Popular Mobilisation Forces and Tribal Mobilisation Militias.

According to the UN, Iraqi State authorities have been successful in putting ISIL under constant counterterrorism pressure.

The Iraqi State authorities 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.

It is reported that the government forces have been involved in unlawful killings, abuse and torture during arrest, pre-trial detention and after conviction, as well as in a wide range of other abuses. Reported abuses by ISF also include forcing family members to pay bribes to recover bodies, as well as involvement in kidnappings, assassinations, robberies and other criminal activity [Targeting 2019, 1.1.1, 1.3, 1.3.1]. ISF are reported to intimidate civilians, conduct searches, impose movement restrictions, and confiscate houses. Civilians, including children with (perceived) ties to ISIL, were apprehended based on names lists collected through interrogation or torture. Arrestees were forced to confess affiliation to ISIL and were convicted of terrorism. Families of alleged ISIL members are forced to return home to provide information or face retaliation. Random arrests of Sunnis occurred humiliating and accusing them with false accusations. Sexual abuse against women in IDP camps was reported [Targeting 2022, 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 2.2, 4.1.2, 7.3].

In the context of the protests, excessive violence, live ammunition, military grade tear gas grenades, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by the ISF against the protesters, was reported. Government agents have also reportedly targeted individuals in relation to the protest movement by means of arrests, intimidation, unlawful detention, etc. [Protesters, 3.1]. Furthermore the restriction of broadcasting, the closure of television and radio channels as well as the threatening and targeting of journalists were reported [Targeting 2022, 3.1.1, 5.1, 8.6]

It should be noted that the distinction between official state forces and non-state forces is not always clear.