The United Nations, through one of its watchdog committees, has called on the government of Iraq to stop the practice of forced disappearances and abductions, which the figures showed a damning rise in the past five decades.
The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances expressed “deep concerns” over the alarming increase in the rate of forced disappearances, which began in Iraq in 1968.
The committee’s assessment consisting of 10 experts was based on their visit to the country in November 2022.
“The Iraqi state has not yet criminalised enforced disappearances,” said Mohammed Ayat, committee vice-chair.
“It is therefore understandable in this context … to remind Iraq of the extreme urgency to criminalise enforced disappearance in the terms of the convention. The committee recommends the eradication of the omnipresent impunity of enforced disappearance.”
Out of the 1,577 complaints received from 22 countries by the committee for urgent actions to investigate forced disappearances in the last two weeks, Iraq topped the list of countries with the most cases. There were 578 cases sent from the country.
Despite all efforts at the UN Human Rights Committee’s 2010 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Iraq has not criminalised the act, with several reports of forced disappearances received by the committee during their visit.
During the visit, the committee met with victims of forced disappearances, including those that happened in the heat of the U.S. military invasion, which began in 2003, and during the proclamation of an Islamic caliphate over part of the territory of Iraq by the Islamic State (ISIL).
Iraqi military and security forces were said to be complicit in the act, with documented reports saying there were new rounds of abductions and mass killings when Islamic State militants were in control of some parts of the country between 2014 to 2017.