Iraq: 11 men remain missing several years after their abductions by government forces


In November 2017, Alkarama and Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly submitted 11 cases of missing people in Iraq to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED). These 11 individuals were abducted by either the Iraqi army or the intelligence services in government-controlled areas, the majority over the course of 2014.

These cases bring the total number submitted by the two NGOs which are pending before the CED — and yet to be clarified by the Iraqi authorities — to over a hundred. In fact, Iraq has one of the highest rates of missing people worldwide.

Five cases of enforced disappearances in Baghdad

Mounir Al Jabouri, a 40-year-old mechanic, was arrested along with two of his cousins on April 14, 2014 while visiting his uncle in the Dora district of Baghdad. The three men were arrested by members of the 17th Division of the Iraqi Army.

A month later, on May 21, 2014, Amer Al Kartani, a 41-year-old shop owner, was abducted by the police intelligence in the same neighbourhood as Al Jabouri. Abducted during a night raid, the officers dragged him outside the house without giving him time to get dressed, and forced him into a pickup truck.

Later that day, military forces arrested brothers Farouk, Talib and Rasoul Al Dulaimi, three labourers in their forties. The three men were handcuffed, blindfolded, and forced into a pickup truck. During the arrest, the soldiers violently assaulted their parents and their brother, in particular their mother.

Since then, and despite enquiring several times with different government agencies and detention facilities in Baghdad, the families have not received any information on their fates and whereabouts.

Three arrests in “Baghdad belts”

Osman Al Zoubai, a 22-year-old employee in a tableware plant, was arrested in Yusufiyah on June 1, 2014 at the civil affairs directorate of the Iraqi army, where he had gone to inquire about a request he submitted. When the military personnel consulted the database, they found that he was wanted by the 17th Division of the Iraqi Army, and he was immediately arrested and forced into a pickup truck.

On July 21, 2014, Omar Al Janabi, a 25-year-old employee in the water department of Latifiya — his hometown — was visiting a colleague in the neighbouring town of Haswa when Iraqi soldiers raided the house. Al Janabi was asked to disclose his identity and justify his presence in Haswa, before both men were arrested in front of his colleague’s brother and taken to an unknown location.

The Al Zoubai and Al Janabi families enquired about their missing relatives with several government institutions including the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad and the Tasferat Prison near the Al Sh'aab stadium in Baghdad, but to no avail.

Six days after Omar Al Janabi’s disappearance, Rafid Al Janabi, a 31-year-old taxi driver, was arrested at his home by 10 members of the 17th Division of the Iraqi Army during a night raid. A former detainee testified that he saw Al Janabi in the Al Muthanna airport prison on April 10, 2015. Since then, his family has not received any further information on his fate and whereabouts.

Three internally displaced people abducted at checkpoints

On October 26, 2014, brothers Haidar and Riad Al Shuhban, 28 and 31-year-old construction workers, were travelling by car when they were stopped at a checkpoint under the control of the Iraqi army. They were both arrested and taken to an unknown location.

The two brothers and their family were internally displaced after having fled Jurf Sakhar, their hometown in the Babil governorate, which had fallen under IS control earlier that year. Their arrest coincided with the recapture of Jurf Sakhar by Iraqi security forces following four months of fighting in the Babil province.

Saad Al Ani, a 27-year-old taxi driver from the city of Ramadi, was arrested while trying to flee the fierce fighting between IS and the Iraqi army in the Al Anbar province. On December 5, 2015, he was abducted in front of his relatives at a checkpoint located near the lake of Razazah, between Ramadi and Kerbala. This particular checkpoint acted as a gateway to Baghdad for internally displaced people fleeing violence.

The families of the three men received no information whatsoever concerning the victims’ fates, and the authorities have not attempted to relieve their suffering by conducting effective enquiries despite several requests for information.

Enforced disappearances: an endemic problem in Iraq

“The practice of enforced disappearance, which proliferated in the context of the fight against IS, has been prevailing in Iraq for decades, and has created a climate of fear in the country,” said Inès Osman, Legal Coordinator at Alkarama. “Families, who are systematically denied any information despite numerous enquiries, are extremely concerned over the fate and physical integrity of their loved ones.”

As a party to the Convention on Enforced Disappearances (ICCPED) since 2010, Iraq has a legal obligation to investigate all cases of enforced disappearances, including the more than a hundred pending before the CED.

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