HRW calls on Tunis to probe war crimes by Tunisian fighters in Iraq, Syria

Ahram Online , Thursday 26 Jun 2014

Human Rights Watch says there is evidence of possible war crimes being committed by Tunisians fighting for Islamist groups

Fighters of the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) parade in commandeered Iraqi security forces vehicles down a main road at the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, more than two weeks after ISIL took over the country's second largest city, Monday, June 23, 2014 (Photo: AP)

International rights group Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called on Tunisia to launch an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed in Syria and Iraq by Tunisian combatants.

The international rights body said that Abu Hamza Al-Mouhamadi, a man who identified himself as Tunisian, had posted videos and photographs on Facebook that showed him “apparently showing his role in the abuse and ultimate execution of five detained Iraqi border guards” according to the group’s statement.

 “When a Tunisian extremist so brazenly boasts of his crimes online, the authorities should send a clear and unequivocal message to all Tunisians that they won’t tolerate such conduct", HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director Nadim Houry commented..

The report cited three videos showing Abu Hamza -- "his nom de guerre" according to HRW -- in which he interrogates and slaps five detained guards.

During the second video, Abu Hamza denounces Iraq's Shia premier Nuri Al-Maliki and orders the detained men to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Sunni militant group which took control of several Iraqi cities and currently in confrontations with Iraqi troops.  

"When one of the captured men refuses to repeat the words ‘The State of Islam Forever,’ Abu Hamza is videotaped pushing him down on his back and putting the gun to his throat and repeating his demand," the report noted.

HRW stated that the video does not show the execution, but in the third video, a scene shows a man shot in the face after the other detained men confirmed to Abu Hamza the victim was a Shia.

Mentioning Tunisia's membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2011, HRW called on the North African state to issue new legislations on war crimes and to "integrate the ICC statute into national law."

Moreover, HRW urged Tunisia to investigate and prosecute Tunisians involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria and Iraq.

Lotfi Ben Jeddou, Tunisia's interior minister, said last Monday that there were at least 2,400 Tunisian jihadists fighting in Syria, adding that most of them are fighting with ISIL.

"According to what we have gathered, there are 2,400 Tunisians who have gone to Syria to fight with Al-Nusra Front and the majority of them -- 80 percent -- with (ISIL)", the Daily star quoted Ben Jeddou as saying.

Ben Jeddou said in February that Tunisia stopped 8,000 people from travelling to Syria, and said that 400 Tunisian fighters had already returned from the war-torn state. 


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