Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) More than 600 men and children are still missing after they were kidnapped more than a year ago by Iraqi paramilitary forces from Anbar province, according to Amnesty International.
The London-based organization said in a report on Sunday that 643 men and children were still missing after they were kidnapped by the Popular Mobilization Units, the Shia-led troops fighting IS under the command of the Prime Minister, from the town of Saqlawiya.
The group was abducted during military operations to liberate Fallujah from Islamic State militants.in June 2016, according to the organization. The group was separated from women and younger children by armed gunmen while fleeing the battlefield, according to Amnesty. It added, quoting eyewitnesses, that the armed fighters bore badges and hoisted flags of the mobilization forces.
The abductees were taken to nearby abandoned facilities where they had been incarcerated, tortured and deprived of their personal belongings before being transferred to an unknown location.
According to Amnesty, panels formed by the Iraqi cabinet to investigate the incident, but said it questioned the neutrality of the panel as it comprised representatives of security bodies that might have been implicated in the kidnappings. It said the Iraqi government had failed to take measures to protect witnesses and victims.
Rights groups, and on some occasions, United Nations bodies, had warned of possible human rights violations by the Popular Mobilization Units against civilians at areas liberated from IS. Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has consistently defended the force against accusations.
PMUS won official recognition as a national armed force under Abadi’s command in November.