HUMAN RIGHTS Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
UNITED NATIONS Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office
UNAMI Human Rights Office/OHCHR, May 2012
11. Other Human Rights Issues
11.1Camp New Iraq (Camp Ashraf)
During the reporting period, UNAMI continued monitoring the situation of over 3,000 residents affiliated with the People‟s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) in Camp New Iraq (commonly known as Camp Ashraf) and documented a number of measures of which Iraqi authorities aimed at tightening control over the Camp and its residents with the ultimate objective of closing it down by the end of 2011, as declared in the Council of Ministers‟ decision of 17 June 2008.
On 8 April, in an operation that lasted approximately 7 hours, the Iraqi army moved into the Camp and occupied its northern part, comprising some 40 percent of its total surface area. The Iraqi authorities described the operation as a law enforcement action to restore privately owned land in Ashraf to its legitimate owners. It resulted in the deaths of 36 and injuring of more than 300 residents who protested against, and resisted, the operation. On 13 April, a UNAMI delegation was authorized to visit the Camp. The UNAMI physician counted 28 bodies in a makeshift morgue. The apparent cause of death in most cases was bullets and shrapnel wounds. Another 6 residents were confirmed dead among those injured who had been rushed to Ba‟quba hospital. Two more died later from their injuries. The Iraqi authorities admitted that their forces caused 3 fatalities, which they described as „accidental‟.
In a statement made public on 15 April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the Iraqi military were well aware of the risks attached to launching an operation like this in Ashraf and added: 'There is no possible excuse for this number of casualties. There must be a full, independent and transparent inquiry, and any person found responsible for use of excessive force should be prosecuted.' On the same day, UNAMI issued a similar statement requesting a thorough investigation through an independent commission. During the reporting period, no action was taken by the Government of Iraq to establish such an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the incident. The 8 April operation was the second occasion, after clashes on 28/29 July 2009,80 when Iraqi forces appear to have used excessive force against the residents of Camp Ashraf. UNAMI again urges the Government of Iraq to exercise restraint in conformity with international human rights law in asserting its legitimate authority over the camp and its residents After this incident; the Iraqi Government reaffirmed the deadline of 31 December 2011 for the residents to evacuate Camp Ashraf. UNAMI continued working closely with the Government of Iraq, the diplomatic community, UNHCR and the residents‟ representatives in order to find durable solutions. In late 2011, consultations between UNAMI and the Government of Iraq led to a Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed by both parties on 25 December. In it, the United Nations offered its services as an impartial facilitator and observer in a process that would see the residents of Camp Ashraf moved to a temporary transit location at Camp Liberty (a former US military base near Baghdad International Airport), undergo individual refugee status determination by UNHCR, and eventually either their voluntary return to their countries of nationality or if eligible, resettlement in third countries, subject to the availability of receiving countries. In an open letter of 28 December 2011 to the residents of Camp Ashraf, UNAMI SRSG, Martin Kobler, affirmed that the United Nations desired to “prevent violence and confrontation” a permanent solution for the residents. He pledged that UN staff would monitor the situation at Camp Liberty 24/7 until the last resident had left Iraq.
By 31 December, the Prime Minister Al-Maliki announced the extension of the deadline for the departure from Iraq of Ashraf residents till the end of April 2012. At time of publishing this report 29 May 2012, 1996 residents have relocated from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty (Camp Hurriya).
UNAMI reminds the Government of Iraq to abide by its legal obligations, reaffirmed in the Memorandum of Understanding, to fully respect its human rights obligations under international law in dealing with the residents of Camp Ashraf. It also calls upon the residents and their representatives to obey the laws of Iraq, and to voluntarily participate in the process offered by the UN and agreed to by the Government of Iraq aimed at resolving the issue peacefully.