Iraq: Impunity for perpetrators of enforced disappearances prevails in Iraq as Alkarama submits seven more cases to the UN
On September 22, 2017, Alkarama and Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly submitted seven cases of enforced disappearances in Iraq to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).
These seven cases are only the tip of a much larger iceberg in a country where the practice of enforced disappearances is widespread and systematic, and the rate of missing people remains one of the highest worldwide.
Two brothers and their cousin forcibly disappeared in Samarra
Alkarama submitted the cases of two brothers, Mohammed and Mustapha Al Boumahidi, as well as their cousin, Salam Al Boumahidi, to the CED. All three men have been missing since August 2014 when they were disappeared by the Saraya Al Salam militia.
These three young men were arrested at their homes in Samarra at the same time on August 28, 2014. During the raids, the militiamen explained that the arrests were being carried out for the sole purpose of interrogation and that they should be released shortly after. Since their abductions, Al Boumahidi ’s family has not received any information on their fates and whereabouts.
The Saraya Al Salam militia was formed in June 2014 by the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in response to the Islamic State’s territorial gains in Iraq. It is part of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), an umbrella organisation composed of 67 militias currently embedded in the Iraqi army.
The enforced disappearance of a senior Iraqi officer
Alkarama also submitted the case of a 49-year-old Iraqi colonel who was abducted at a military checkpoint manned by PMU militias. On May 6, 2015, Mr Al Doori and his driver were on their way to Tikrit when they were stopped in Hueish at a mobile checkpoint manned by the Hezbollah and the Harakat Hezbollah Al Nujaba Brigades.
Both men were arrested before being transferred to an unknown location. Shortly after the abduction, Al Doori’s family informed the traffic police department and the “Operations Command of Samarra,” but no investigation took place.
The abduction of three men between February 2014 and May 2015
The enforced disappearance of Nafie Al Subaihi, a 50-year-old labourer from Al Anbar, which Alkarama also reported to the CED, follows the same pattern.
On June 24, 2014, he and his family were travelling by taxi to Baghdad from the city of Al Karmah in central Iraq when they were stopped at a checkpoint in Al Anbar which was under the control of the Hezbollah Brigades. The militiamen arrested Al Subaihi, while his relatives were allowed to continue their journey to the capital. Al Subaihi remains unaccounted for since his abduction, and his fate and whereabouts remain unknown.
Finally, Alkarama reported the cases of Mohammed Al Daraji and Muhannad Al Assoudi, both of whom have been missing since 2014 when they were disappeared from their homes by PMU militiamen and the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, respectively.
On February 10, 2014, members of the Saraya Al Salam militia raided the house of Mohammed Al Daraji, a 32-year-old employee at Samarra’s power plant. The militiamen informed him that they were looking for an individual named “Raed.” After checking Al Daraji’s identity cards, the militiamen arrested him before transferring him to an unknown location.
Three months later, Muhannad Al Assoudi, a 36-year-old employee in a pharmaceutical laboratory, was arrested at his home under similar circumstances. On October 15, 2014, members of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service raided Al Assoudi's family home. The intelligence officers examined the ID cards of all the family members before arresting Al Assoudi and taking him to an unknown location. His relatives, who witnessed the arrest, sought information from the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad, but his name could not be found in any of the detainees’ registries.
A systematic practice
“These seven cases are part of a wider pattern of systematic enforced disappearances that prevails in Iraq,” said Inès Osman, Legal Officer for the Mashreq at Alkarama. "We are extremely concerned that despite several UN communications calling upon the state to end the practice of enforced disappearance, these extrajudicial abductions continue to be carried out by security forces and state-sponsored militias, and those responsible are not being held accountable."
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