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UN rights chief criticises Iraq over religious violence

by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Nov 4, 2010
The UN's rights chief criticised the Iraqi government on Thursday for failing to protect religious communities, following a recent wave of violence targeting Christian and Shiite populations.

"I believe much more could be done to protect groups which are clearly targets and who are particularly vulnerable," said Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Forty-six people including two priests were killed in a massacre at a Catholic church in Baghdad on Sunday, while 64 people died and 360 were injured by a series of car bombs in Shiite areas of the city on Tuesday.

"It is imperative that the Iraqi government intervenes decisively and impartially at the first sign of incitement to hostility and violence against any religious groups or minorities," she said in a statement.

"The authorities should ensure that religious sites and other likely targets are adequately protected, and reach out and demonstrate to different communities that their safety is of paramount concern to the government."

Pillay acknowledged the difficulty of containing terrorist groups intent on provoking violence and targetting civilians, and expressed her condolences for the victims of the attacks.

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