As fighting to take back the city of Mosul from the Islamic State nears an end, bodies of suspected ISIS fighters have been on public display and families of suspected fighters have been told to leave the city. These extrajudicial killings and the collective punishment of an entire community are just the latest example of victor’s justice playing out in Iraq.
In a new policy alert, PAX and Impunity Watch warn about how destructive victor´s justice can be for sustainable peace in Iraq. The focus on abuses committed by ISIS runs counter to the goal of an Iraq in which diverse ethnic groups can reconcile with one another to form a stable country. Iraq faced a similar situation thirteen years ago. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, supporters of his Baathist regime felt excluded. Predominantly Sunni, they were receptive to ISIS as a way to regain control. Instead of reconciling with supporter of the former regime, seeds for a new round of violence were sown.
To break the vicious circle of distrust and violence, Iraq needs inclusive transitional justice. Authorities need to address crimes and abuses regardless of the background or identity of the perpetrators and victims, and provide space for all affected communities to shape policy. In this policy brief, PAX and Impunity Watch outline the trends they have observed in current stabilization and justice efforts and propose ways to address them.