Iraq: Activist from Baghdad Missing Since September 2015 Following Abduction by Militia

جلال الشحماني Jalal Al Shahmani

On the night of 22 September 2015, Jalal Al Shahmani, owner of a restaurant and activist, was arrested by militiamen and subsequently disappeared. Concerned over his fate, Alkarama and Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly sent his case to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED), hoping that the UN experts’ intervention will help shed light on his fate and whereabouts.

On 22 September 2015 at night, Al Shahmani, who is a well known organiser of the protests against corruption that were taking place in Baghdad in the summer 2015, was walking in a street in Al Wazera neighbourhood in Baghdad, when he was stopped in front of Baghdad Palace Restaurant by masked individuals in military uniforms, who brought him away in 4x4 vehicles without plates. Waiters of the restaurants recognised them as members of a militia group belonging to the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), an umbrella organisation composed of 67 militias currently embedded in the Iraqi army.

Al Shahmani’s relatives believe he was arrested in retaliation for his activism, as only few days before his disappearance, on 17 September 2015, he appeared in a TV interview calling to join the demonstrations against corruption in Iraq.

Concerned over his fate, Al Shahmani’s relatives reported his disappearance to the Suleikh police station, in Qahira neighbourhood in Baghdad but to no avail. They are left without any official information about him since the date of his arrest.

“Al Shahmani is not the first case Alkarama documents of enforced disappearance used to silence critical voices,” says Inès Osman, Legal Officer responsible for Iraq at Alkarama. “The authorities have a legal obligation to ensure freedom of speech and association is guaranteed to all. Enforced disappearance can never be used as a retaliation for having merely spoken against the government. Violations of this kind must not remain unpunished and militias acting under the government’s control or on his behalf, such as the PMU, must be held accountable for all abuses they commit.”

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