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Iraq: Alkarama Raises 28 Questions in View of the Country’s Review by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances in 2015

On 26 November 2014, Alkarama provided the Committeeon Enforced Disappearances (CED) with a list of 28 issues to be raised by the United Nations experts with the Iraqi authorities during their consideration of Iraq's initial report.

Alkarama started by raising its concerns over the content of Iraq's report, in which the State party seems to be denying the ongoing practice of enforced disappearances. In fact, the report refers to the practice of enforced disappearances as being only "widely used by the dictatorial regime which ruled Iraq before 2003," whereas Alkarama has reported an increase in this practice since 2003, as shown in the numerous cases it documented and submitted to the UN mechanisms on human rights over the last months.

Alkarama continued by addressing the question of State-controlled militias, such as the Badr Brigades, which operate in the country and commit numerous human rights abuses, including enforced disappearances. Two questions, in particular, needed a response: What is the status of these militias in Iraqi law? And what are the competent authorities to investigate the violations committed?

Regarding Iraq's obligation to exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of enforced disappearance committed on its territory, as per Article 9 of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, Alkarama raised the issue of individuals detained incommunicado by the United States forces during the occupation before being handed over to the Iraqi authorities and who remain disappeared since. In particular, Alkarama asked if Iraq was doing anything to make sure that enforced disappearances committed by US forces were duly investigated, and whether the relatives of victims of enforced disappearances had access to an authority able to provide them with information on the fate and whereabouts of their loved one?

Alkarama further highlighted the existence of secret detention centres in the country, such as Camp Justice in Northwest Baghdad and Camp Honour in the Green Zone, in violation of Article 17 of the Convention. Were the Iraqi authorities taking any measures to close these facilities or to regularise them by moving them under the control of the justice system?

Finally, Alkarama denounced the principle, under Iraqi law, of presumption of death for a person who has been missing for over four years, which impeded the victims' families' right to know the truth. Alkarama expressed its concerns that this legal provision, by failing to tackle the circumstances in which the enforced disappearances took place, created a climate of impunity for the perpetrators, and could therefore not be compatible with Article 24 of the Convention.

The list of issues, which will be adopted during the CED's 8th session in February 2015, aims at facilitating the preparation of a constructive dialogue with the State party. Iraq will be due to provide its answers to the list of issues in writing before its review in September 2015.

For more information or an interview, please contact the media team at media@alkarama.org (Dir: +41 22 734 1007 Ext: 810)

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