Iraqi authorities should fulfill a commitment to locate victims of enforced disappearance and ensure that those responsible are held accountable, Human Rights Watch said today.
Since taking office in May 2020, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced that his government was creating a new mechanism to locate victims of enforced disappearances, but authorities appear to have done little follow-through. Iraqi authorities did not respond to a November 5 letter from Human Rights Watch requesting information about eight disappearances that occurred between December 2019 and October 2020.
“Creating a do-nothing mechanism, as Iraqi governments have done for years, is simply not enough to address longtime problems like enforced disappearances,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Ending enforced disappearances and holding security forces accountable requires a sustained and serious commitment that includes tracking these cases.”
Case details obtained by Human Rights Watch indicate that the Popular Mobilization Forces – PMF or Hashd al-Sha'abi, security forces nominally under the control of the prime minister since November 2016 – were most likely behind all eight disappearances. These cases are only a small fraction of the total disappearances believed to have been carried out by these groups over the past year.