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Iraq: Taxi driver still missing after his abduction in 2008 by American forces


On October 17, 2017, Alkarama and Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly sent an urgent appeal to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) regarding the case of a 34-year-old taxi driver who has been missing since his abduction by American forces in Iraq in September 2008.

On September 5, 2008, taxi driver Barzan Al-Bu Aswad picked up two men at the Samarra bus station on their way to Tikrit. Before reaching their destination, the car was stopped by American forces, and all three men were arrested.

Al-Bu Aswad’s uncle was informed through personal connections that he had been transferred to the Speicher Base, a former US base in Tikrit, shortly after his arrest. Since then, his relatives have not received any information on his fate and whereabouts, nor have they been informed of the reasons behind the arrest.

Since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, thousands of people like Al-Bu Aswad have been detained by American forces without being charged. Many cases of torture and ill-treatment of detainees held in facilities under their control have also been reported. The most notorious example being Abou Ghraib prison, where coalition forces were responsible for the systematic abuse of detainees.

In the years following Al-Bu Aswad’s disappearance, US forces handed over tens of thousands of prisoners into Iraqi custody ahead of their withdrawal in 2011 without any guarantees that they would be protected against torture and ill-treatment once transferred.

Alkarama and Al Wissam sent an urgent appeal to the WGEID on October 17, 2017, requesting their intervention with the American authorities to clarify Al-Bu Aswad’s fate and whereabouts.

In the past, Alkarama has submitted four other cases of enforced disappearances perpetrated by American forces in Iraq: those of Wissam Salam Kamal Al Hashimi, Ali Hamid Abdul Wahab Al Jeyali, Jabbar Ali Jaro Aati Al Suhayli, and Essam Al Obaidi.

These cases remain pending before the WGEID to date, and the fates and whereabouts of these victims are yet to be clarified by the US authorities.

Instead of fully collaborating with the Working Group, the US government merely replied to the allegations raised in Alkarama’s communications and relayed by the WGEID by stating that it “searched its records based on the information provided in [the Working Group’s] letter regarding the four named Iraqi individuals and was unable to find a match for these individuals.”

For more information or an interview, please contact media@alkarama.org (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).