Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Three-hundred and fifty prisoners have disappeared from prisons of the northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, Human Rights Watch reported on Thursday, fearing that their disappearance was perpetrated by security authorities.
Those missing are mostly Sunni Arabs who were displaced by war at their home regions and moved to Kirkuk, as well as residents of the city, according to the organization .
Those were “detained by the regional government’s security forces, the Asayish, on suspicion of Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation after the regional forces took control of Kirkuk in June 2014”, it reported.
It quoted local officials saying that “the prisoners were no longer in the official and unofficial detention facilities in and around Kirkuk when Iraqi federal forces regained control of the area on October 16, 2017”.
“Families in Kirkuk are desperate to know what has become of their detained relatives,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The secret, incommunicado detentions raise grave concerns for their safety.”
Kirkuk security officials had reportedly argued that the disappearance cases date back to the period between 2003 and 2011, therefore could have been the responsibility of U.S. forces previously deployed there.
HRW has been regularly critical of human rights violations by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces against civilians since the launch of operations against Islamic State.