UNITED NATIONS: As mass graves and further evidence of sexual exploitation, torture and killings, child recruitment and other crucial human rights abuses committed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/Da'esh) extremists in Iraq come to light, the top United Nations (UN) human rights official has called for immediate action to ensure that the rights and the needs of victims and survivors are met - including the need for justice, truth and reconciliation.

“The extent of civilian suffering in Mosul and other ISIS-occupied areas in Iraq is numbing and intolerable,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release issued on Saturday, citing heartbreaking images of children being forced to carry out executions, stories of women being ‘redistributed’ among ISIS fighters, of killings for possession of SIM cards, and killings of those perceived to be opposed to ISIS’s takfiri doctrines.

He also cited the forced displacement of tens of thousands of civilians and their exploitation as human shields, and then the risk of reprisals against these long-suffering women, men and children for their perceived support of ISIS.

“Justice for the victims and survivors of human rights abuses and violations - irrespective of when, where or by whom such abuses and violations were committed - needs to be impartial, transparent and effective,” the UN high commissioner said, urging the government of Iraq to act quickly to restore effective law enforcement in areas retaken from ISIS to ensure that captured fighters and their perceived supporters are dealt with according to the law.

“This is crucial to limit the opportunity for revenge attacks and collective punishments,” he added. Zeid said that it is equally important that formal justice is supported by actions that promote community reconciliation, such as truth-telling and restorative justice, including the provision of medical and psycho-social services, housing, education and other financial support which may assist people in rebuilding their lives and their communities.

“The people of Iraq - all the people of Iraq - must see that their State, by its actions, is capable of protecting them by bringing to justice those guilty of the horrible crimes that have been committed against them,” he said.