Amnesty International Urges Iraq to Act on Fate of 643 Men and Boys Abducted by Militias
In a recent report, Amnesty International called on Iraqi authorities to take immediate action in revealing the fate and whereabouts of 643 men and boys who were forcibly disappeared by government-linked militias in June 2016. The disappearances occurred during military operations to retake Fallujah from the so-called Islamic State.
Amnesty International highlighted that despite the establishment of a committee by former Prime Minister Haidar Abadi to investigate the disappearances and other abuses committed by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), no findings have been made public, and no one has been held accountable.
The families of the disappeared have been living in agony for seven years, seeking answers from the authorities. Multiple attempts to press for investigations have been fruitless, with no concrete actions or redress provided by the authorities.
The report shares testimonies from individuals who were captured by the PMU during the operations. They speak of the abduction of their loved ones and the torture they witnessed. The families of the disappeared continue to suffer, longing for answers and justice.
Iraq is estimated to have one of the highest numbers of missing persons worldwide, with an estimated range of 250,000 to 1 million missing individuals since 1968.
Amnesty International emphasized that Iraq must make the findings of the investigative committee public, disclose any information regarding the fate or whereabouts of the missing individuals to their families, and share evidence with judicial authorities to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
Additionally, the organization called for Iraq to pass legislation criminalizing enforced disappearances, as it is currently not a distinct offense under Iraqi law. Iraq is a state party to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance, obligating it to take necessary measures to address enforced disappearances and provide reparation to victims.
Amnesty International's report follows a recent visit by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to Iraq, which also urged Iraq to address enforced disappearances and establish a comprehensive search and investigation strategy.
The failure to act on these disappearances and enact legislation to protect against enforced disappearance signals a need for Iraq to fulfill its obligations and provide closure to the families affected by this tragedy.