Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) More than 4000 Iraqis have forcibly disappeared in “secret prisons” in the country, with authorities still unable to locate them, according to Iraqi parliamentarians and human rights advocates.
Zana Saeed, a member of the parliament’s legal affairs committee, who is in charge of the forcible disappearance file, told London-based Alquds Alarabi that “according to governors of central and western provinces, the number of forcibly disappeared civilians since 2014 stands at more than 4000, mostly from Baghdad Belts”. He said certain “bodies” receive citizens’ reports of those disappearances.
“There could be information available about their whereabouts, but the government is still unable to take practical steps to rescue them,” Saeed told the newspaper.
He blamed the phenomenon on the “appearance of armed groups taking the law into their own hands, especially in Baghdad and other provinces”.
Saeed said that, being, himself, a resident of Baghdad, there are neighborhoods which he considers no-go areas since they fall outside the control of government security forces. “Some rogue groups assault citizens, and kidnap and kill whoever they want,” he said.
“There is no security authority adopting those groups, but they, however, operate under the umbrella of security agencies, with insignias, weapons and headquarters,” Saeed added, but did not identify those groups.
Popular Mobilization Forces, the Shia-led paramilitary force fighting Islamic State militants alongside the Iraqi government, have regularly faced accusations of human rights violations during their operations against the extremist group.
The group was formed in 2014 as per an edict by the country’s top Shia clergy, and won official recognition as a national force under the prime minister’s command in November 2016.
PM Haider al-Abadi has strongly rejected accusations of human rights violations made by rights groups and international agencies against mobilization forces.