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Iraq: UN Committee urges end to impunity for enforced disappearances

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News briefing: Translation and editing by: Committee for Justice

Geneva, 27 November 2020

The United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) issued a report of its findings regarding Iraq, calling on the Iraqi government to include the crime of enforced disappearance in domestic criminal legislation, and to ensure that no person is detained in a secret location.

UN welcomes measures to combat enforced disappearance:

In its latest report, the CED welcomed the measures taken by Iraq with regard to enforced disappearances committed in the country. These procedures included; Forming two fact-finding committees in 2016 and 2018, respectively, as well as drafting a bill to protect people from enforced disappearance.

Nevertheless, the CED expressed its deep regret at the continuing pattern of enforced disappearance in most of Iraq, and that impunity and re-victimization prevail in these cases.

The speedy adoption of a law for the protection from enforced disappearance:

The committee also expressed its concern about the delay in adopting the draft law on the protection of persons from enforced disappearance, which is currently before the Council of Ministers for discussion. This contributed to the continued decriminalization of the crime of enforced disappearance in the country. The committee recommended that Iraq review the law in line with the international convention, in consultation with all stakeholders, including specialized civil society organizations, and speed up the process of enacting legislation.

Recommendation to establish a unified database: 

The committee also expressed its concern about the lack of reliable data on cases of enforced disappearance, the large number of unidentified bodies and mass graves, and recommended the establishment of a unified database at the national level for all disappearances that occurred in the country since 1968.

The committee had received allegations about 420 secret places of detention in Iraq and has urged the government there to conduct an investigation into these allegations, close any of these facilities or convert them into regular, registered, and supervised detention centers, as well as take all necessary measures to ensure that no one is held secretly in the future.

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