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IS Sharia Courts in N. Iraq Dispense Cruel Punishments

FILE - Kurdish Peshmerga forces inspect a site in Hardan village in northern Iraq where Islamic State fighters allegedly executed people from the Yazidi sect captured when they swept through the area in August.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is condemning cruel and inhuman punishments meted out by so-called Sharia courts established by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq.

The agency said anyone falling foul of the militants’ extremist interpretation of Islam is at risk of being killed. Islamic State militants claim religious, political and military authority over all Muslims.

The U.N. Human Rights Office said the Islamic State group is exercising its power over the population of Iraq in the most ruthless, barbaric manner through its so-called Sharia courts.

U.N. Human Rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said scores of people have been executed since the courts were established late last year.

Men, women, children killed

Shamdasani told VOA executions of men, women and children were being carried out for a variety of reasons.

"Quite often, immediately after the sentence is handed down, the people are executed in public. And the kinds of people who are executed are across the board," she said.

"Some are executed for being disloyal to ISIL, some for refusing to pledge allegiance. As I mentioned, there were these four doctors who were killed for refusing to treat ISIL fighters. So, really any kind of disobedience, any kind of lack of adherence to ISIL’s twisted philosophy can lead to execution," Shamdasani said, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Shamdasani said last week, the Islamic State group posted photos on the Internet of two men being "crucified" after they were accused of banditry. She cited the case of a woman being stoned to death, allegedly for adultery.

She said the ruthless murder of two men, who were thrown off the top of a building after having been accused of homosexual acts, was another terrible example of Islamic State militants’ monstrous disregard for human life.

Group's reign of terror

Shamdasani said this case was tried in a so-called Sharia court in Mosul, but such trials occurred in other areas where the Islamist group’s reign of terror holds sway.

“We have received numerous other reports of women who have been executed by ISIL in Mosul and in other areas under the group’s control, often immediately following sentences passed by its so-called 'Sharia courts,' " Shamdasani said.

"Educated, professional women, especially women who have run as candidates in elections for public office seem to be particularly at risk. In just the first two weeks of this year, reports indicate that three female lawyers were executed” the U.N. spokeswoman said.

Reacting to reports the terrorist group is holding two Japanese men for ransom, Shamdasani said hostage-taking was a grave crime under international humanitarian law.

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