On January 15, 2018, Alkarama sent a communication to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) requesting that the UN experts call upon the Iraqi authorities to immediately release 24 individuals* arbitrarily detained as a result of their real or perceived link with former Vice-President Tariq Al Hashimi.
These cases bring the total number documented by Alkarama in the context of the mass arrests against individuals with ties to Al Hashimi to 43, after 19 cases were brought to the attention of the WGAD in 2017. Following Alkarama’s previous appeal, on April 27, 2017, the WGAD adopted an Opinion concluding that the 19 individuals were victims of “collective punishment” and “guilt by association”. The WGAD qualified their detentions as arbitrary and called for their immediate release.
Mass arrests against former vice-president’s staff
Tariq Al Hashimi served as vice-president of Iraq between 2006 and 2014, during which time he became one of the key figures in the opposition to former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, the latter of whom was criticised because of his sectarian policies and his concentration of power.
On December 20, 2011, and in the context of the U.S withdrawal, Iraqi officials issued an arrest warrant for Vice-President Tariq Al Hashemi, over suspected links to terrorism based on confessions the government said it obtained from his bodyguards.
Concerned over his safety, Al Hashimi had fled to the Kurdish autonomous region on December 18, 2011 before seeking refuge in Turkey, where he currently resides. While in exile, he publically resigned from the vice-presidency on December 30, 2013. The members of his staff who remained in the country, including his secretary Rasha Al Husseini and former bodyguards, were found guilty by association and arrested.
Arrested, tortured and convicted under the pretext of counter-terrorism
Arrested by the Iraqi security forces between November 2011 and May 2013, all 24 individuals on behalf of whom Alkarama sent a communication to the WGAD have been accused of acts of terrorism. They have all been sentenced by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) – a court which does not meet international standards of due process – to penalties ranging from 15 years of imprisonment to capital punishment under the repressive and broad Anti-Terrorism Law No. 13 of 2005.
Most of the victims are former members of Tariq Al Hashimi’s security personnel, though a few of the arrestees had no direct connection with Al Hashimi. These individuals were either added to the list of suspects on the basis of coerced confessions, or for having participated in peaceful rallies in support of Al Hashimi. Some were targeted merely for being relatives of Tariq Al Hashimi's employees. In this respect, the systematic arbitrary arrests targeted individuals for reasons of discrimination owing to the victims’ alleged political opinion or affiliation.
Following their arrests, they were taken to secret locations for the purpose of interrogation and prevented from contacting their families and lawyers for several months. Subjected to severe acts of torture – including beatings, electrocution, and waterboarding – they were forced to make self-incriminating confessions that were later used in court as the sole source of evidence.
Around the same time that Alkarama’s latest communication was sent to the WGAD, the victims’ lawyers submitted requests for retrial on the basis of the General Amnesty Law, which was adopted by the Iraqi parliament on August 25, 2016. The law provided for the creation of a Judicial Committee responsible for considering requests for retrial. Though some of the appeals are still pending, the Judicial Committee rejected a majority of the requests, prompting the defence to appeal these decisions before the Court of Cassation.
Alkarama requested that the WGAD urge the Iraqi authorities to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of the 24 individuals by releasing them immediately, noting that their protracted detention goes against the standards and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
*The names of the 24 individuals are as follows:
- Mohammed Hamid Ali Abdullah Al Jabouri
- Mohammed Nehme Abbas Mahmoud Al Jabouri
- Ahmad Ali Najim Rsan Al Abadi
- Omar Ali Najim Rsan Al Abadi
- Uday Hafiz Abbas Ali Al Ali
- Ali Adel AbdelKarim Ismail Al Hashemi
- Mazen Ahmad Sattar Hasan Al Obaidi
- Riad Abdullah Razik
- Mohammad Shawki Saoud Rahim Al Kubaisi
- Buraq Abdel Ilah Jassim Mohamad Al Habsh
- Qusay Saeed Abed Abbas Al Mashhadani
- Malik Abed Sultan Hamad
- Mohammad Firas Bahr Shati
- Hammad Zaidan Khalaf Al Fahdawi
- Abdul Razak Abdul Rahman Hasan Al Dulaimi
- Rafid Walid Rachid Majid Al Obaidi
- Hicham Ali Nayef Shatr
- Mustafa Mohammad AbdelKarim Salih Al Samurai Al Hasani
- Ismail Nasif Jassim Al Mashhadani
- Ali Moussa Hussein Al Ameri
- Salam Ashour Khalil Ibrahim Al Jumaili
- Qusay Obaid Ibrahim Salloum
- Loay Obaid Ibrahim Salloum
- Saad Alwan Hamadi Yassin Al Mashhadani
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