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UN Expert Calls On Security Council To Act To Protect Civilians In IS-held Areas

A United Nations expert appointed by the world body's Geneva-based Human Rights Council has appealed to the Security Council to take immediate action to enforce international law and protect civilians living "in daily fear for their lives" in areas controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) where "shocking crimes are being committed on an industrial scale."

"The Security Council has an obligation to take measures to protect civilian populations from widespread and systematic acts of violence and terrorism," " Ben Emmerson, the Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, was quoted as saying in a press release on the presentation of his latest report on the gross violations committed by ISIL and the pressing need for accountability.

"Given the reports of genocide, all members of the Security Council may now have a specific responsibility to take action to prevent this most serious of international crimes," Emmerson said.

He noted that the UN Security Council has "conspicuously failed to either authorize military action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, or to refer the situation in Iraq and Syria to the International Criminal Court."

He said that "the time has come to recognize that permanent members [of the Security Council] have a responsibility to refrain from using their veto powers to block action aimed at ending atrocity crimes."

"This approach now has the support of many States, civil society organisation and entities of the UN," he noted, adding that "this mandate also unequivocally supports efforts to bring about this desperately need reform."

Emmerson described in his report how different entities have found clear evidence of persecution and summary execution of religious and ethnic minority communities on a mass scale, arbitrary execution of community leaders, journalists, intellectuals and others, mass disappearances, forced religious conversions and systematic torture.

"As many as 700 people were reportedly murdered in one such massacre," according to the report.

The enforcement of summary justice in areas under ISIL control includes public beheading, shooting, stoning, lashing and amputation, it says.

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