IRAQ: The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances urges the government to clarify the case of Saleh AL BAYDANI
The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, responsible for monitoring the implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance ratified by Iraq on 23 November 2010, urged the State party on 18 October 2022 to reveal the fate of Saleh Musa Ahmed Mohammed AL BAYDANI (1993) who has been missing since his abduction in 2009.
Al Baydani, a Yemeni citizen, had traveled to Iraq to work and support his family in Yemen. On August 12, 2009, he was arrested in the district of Tal Afar, in the province of Nineveh (northwestern Iraq) by U.S. forces who suspected, in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, all Arabs of non-Iraqi origin of belonging to the "armed resistance" against the "American occupation forces".
At the time of his arrest, Al Baydani was 17 years old. The U.S. soldiers who arrested him immediately confiscated his identity documents and, although the Status of Forces Agreement (a security agreement also known as SOFA) under which U.S. forces are required, among other things, to obtain an arrest warrant from Iraqi authorities before making any arrests was in effect, no official documents were presented or served on Al Baydani.
Detention of the victim and conviction after an unfair trial
For ten months after his arrest, he was held incommunicado in Abu Ghraib prison. He was finally allowed to contact his family for the first time only in May 2010. He was then transferred for a month to a detention center in the Green Zone controlled by the 56th Brigade of the Iraqi army, under the control and authority of Prime Minister Al Maliki, a brigade known for its crimes and abuses against civilians, before being returned to Abu Ghraib.
On 18 July 2011, Al Baydani was brought before a court for the first time. After a speedy trial, he was sentenced to death on charges of association with a terrorist group.
Al Baydani, who contested the charges during the hearing, was not given the means to defend himself as he has never had access to a lawyer since the beginning of his detention. Such a verdict is not only a violation of domestic law but also of international law that guarantees the right to a fair trial and prohibits the imposition of the death penalty on minors.
Alkarama had addressed the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions
Concerned about the imminent risk of Al Baydani's execution, Alkarama had sent an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on 23 August 2012.
On 10 December 2012, after being informed of Al Baydani's transfer to Al Kadhamyia prison, known to be the place of execution of death sentences, Alkarama submitted a second urgent appeal to the same Special Rapporteur calling for the cancellation of his execution and requesting that he be retried by a court of law in accordance with international fair trial standards. According to his family, Al Baydani's execution was subsequently stayed.
Al Baydani thus continued to call his family regularly until the end of June 2014. However, and for no apparent reason, his relatives stopped receiving calls from him. Their various attempts to obtain information from the prison authorities have remained fruitless to date.
Alkarama had appealed to the Committee against Enforced Disappearances
As a last resort, Alkarama sent a communication to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) asking it to intervene with the Iraqi authorities to demand Al Baydani's immediate release or, at the very least, that he be placed under the protection of the law and that his death sentence be suspended.
After several years of silence, the State party approached the Committee to request the closure of the urgent action concerning the victim on the grounds that he had been executed by judicial order and that he had been buried in accordance with the Public Health Law no. 89 (1981) and in the absence of his relatives, his legal representative or officials from the Yemeni Embassy in Baghdad to claim the body.
Alkarama asked the UN Committee to keep the case open because, contrary to the State Party's allegations, Al Baydani's family has never received any official information about his fate or where he was buried.
In granting Alkarama's request, the UN body confirmed that the fate of Mr. Saleh Musa Ahmed Mohammed Al Baydani will only be considered resolved and his disappearance ceased "when his family is duly and officially informed of his fate and whereabouts, and that this location can be confirmed by a death certificate."
The Committee thus reminded the State Party that under article 24(2) of the Convention, "every victim has the right to know the truth about the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person. Each State Party shall take appropriate measures in this regard.”
The State Party has until November 18, 2022 to provide clarification regarding the victim's situation.