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UN Says Unlawful 'Shari'a Courts' Carrying Out Cruel, Inhuman Punishments


Islamic State released this image showing a woman being stoned to death for adultery after being "convicted" in a Shari'a court.

Islamic State released this image showing a woman being stoned to death for adultery after being "convicted" in a Shari'a court.

The United Nations' human rights office has said that the Islamic State (IS) group’s "unlawful, so-called 'Shari'a courts'" are carrying out cruel and inhuman punishments against civilians in the territories under the group’s control.

Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), referred on January 20 to the recent executions of men in Mosul, who were thrown from a high building after being accused of homosexual acts.

Shamsadani said the executions were “ruthless murder” and were “another terrible example of the kind of monstrous disregard for human life that characterized [Islamic State’s] reign of terror over areas of Iraq.”

Last week, the Islamic State group published a series of images of a man being pushed to his death from the top of a multistory building, apparently in Mosul.

Text accompanying the photographs explained that the man was being punished with "hadd," meaning a punishment that is determined in the Koran and the hadith for crimes considered to go against the rights of God. The caption noted that the man had committed the crime of the practices of the "people of Lot," a euphemism for sodomy, and that he must be killed by being "thrown from a high place."

The Islamic State said it also crucified two men for “banditry.”

The Islamic State said it also crucified two men for “banditry.”

The OHCHR also referred to other photographs included by IS in the same release as those of the execution of the man for homosexuality. These images showed two men being crucified for “banditry” and a woman stoned to death for adultery.

Shamdasani said that the UN has received additional reports about women who had been executed by the Islamic State group, often after being sentenced in the group’s “Shari'a courts.”

“Educated, professional women, particularly women who had run as candidates in elections for public office, seem to be particularly at risk,” Shamdasani said.

According to Shamdasani, IS militants have executed three female lawyers since the start of 2015.

In recent weeks, the Islamic State group has also killed four doctors in central Mosul who had apparently refused to treat IS militants, the UN said.

The extremist group also reportedly killed 15 civilian tribesmen from the Sunni Jumaili tribe near Fallujah, after IS militants suspected they had collaborated with Iraqi security forces. The tribesmen were apparently executed by being shot dead in a public square. On January 9, IS gunmen carried out another public execution of 14 men in Dour, north of Tikrit. The victims had refused to pledge allegiance to IS, according to Shamdasani.

The remarks by OHCHR come after the UN said in December that reports of atrocities carried out by IS militants against children were on the rise.

The UN’s undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Valerie Amos, said on December 15 that reports of “children killed or publicly executed, crucified, beheaded, and stoned to death, particularly by IS, have increased in recent months.”

The OHCHR’s comments also come amid ongoing reports of executions carried out by IS militants against civilians who have failed to comply with the group’s strict demands.

On January 12, Islamic State gunmen reportedly publicly executed five Iraqis in Mosul after their wives did not comply with orders to wear a new “Afghan-style” head coverings.

The reports of the killings stand in sharp contrast to attempts by IS to portray -- via its propaganda, including a recent video report by British hostage John Cantlie -- that life in Mosul is “business as usual.”

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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