Statement on the situation of Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty

"The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe once again draws the attention of the international community to the situation of Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty (Iraq).

In particular, the Committee is worried by a recent statement of the Iraqi Minister of Justice, in which he said that if Iran asked for the extradition of the residents of Camp Liberty, Iraq would deliver them. The Committee warns that this would constitute a violation of the principle of non-refoulement and a breach of international laws and conventions.

Liberty residents are protected persons under the 4th Geneva Convention and, according to the UNHCR, are entitled to protection under international law. In addition, if carried out, this would also be a breach of the agreement signed between Iraq and the United Nations, in December 2011, where Iraq committed itself to guaranteeing the safety and security of residents until they left Iraq.

There are almost 3 000 Iranian refugees in the camp and, to date, 116 have been killed, 7 (including 6 women) have been taken hostage, 18 died as a result of a medical siege, and 1 300 injured in attacks, notably 4 rocket attacks in 2013.

The Committee urges the Iraqi authorities to comply with the UNHCR call for the government of Iraq to do everything possible to guarantee a safe and secure environment for this population. The Iraqi authorities must also release the 7 hostages taken from Ashraf Camp.

The Committee encourages Council of Europe member States to consider favourably the resettlement demands of Liberty residents, particularly as the UNHCR has called on all countries to redouble their efforts to find humanitarian solutions for this population outside Iraq."