Progress in Addressing Enforced Disappearances in Iraq

ICMP-MHR conference in Iraq On 16 and 17 September, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights held Iraq’s first national conference on the country’s efforts to end enforced disappearances and to provide justice, truth and reparations to victims of this crime.
ICMP and the Ministry brought together representatives of the relevant state agencies including the Ministries of Interior, Defense, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Work and Social Affairs, the Council of Ministers, the Martyrs Foundation, the National Center for Human Rights and the Kurdistan Regional Government to discuss ensuring that current national legislation and mechanisms are in line with Iraq’s legal obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Renowned International legal experts from Amnesty International, the University of Milan, and the Swiss NGO TRIAL provided their expertise to the government officials and offered continued assistance.

Iraq acceded to the United Nations’ International Convention in 2010 and will report on its progress to implement the Convention to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances in 2013.

‘”Iraq joining this Convention was a turning point for human rights implementation in the country.” says Dr. Mohammed Turki al Obaidi, Deputy Director of the Legal Department of the Human Rights Ministry and member of the United Nations Committee of Enforced Disappearances CED while addressing the conference, ”and it also marked an important event for the United Nations because with Iraq ratifying the convention as the 20th State-Party it entered into force according to the provision of Article 39. We welcome this conference as an important event which aims to assist States parties to implement their obligations under the Convention, and we thank ICMP in taking a role of helping States to end the suffering of the victims and their families.”

The participants developed a set of recommendations which urge the Government of Iraq to take concrete steps to implement the convention. The recommendations include reviewing existing national legislation to ensure that it complies with the convention and amending or passing additional legislation related to enforced disappearances. The participants also call on the international community to provide assistance to the drafting committee of Iraq’s report to the United Nations in 2013.

“The families of the innumerable missing persons in Iraq have the right to know the fate of their loved ones regardless of the circumstances of their disappearance,” stated Ms. Sinje Caren Stoyke, the ICMP’s Civil Society Initiatives Program Coordinator. “This event is the first of many steps the Government of Iraq will be taking to ensure that it is not only working to bring the people responsible for committing this horrible crime to justice, but also to actively protect its citizens and to prevent this crime from happening.”

ICMP seeks to secure the co-operation between governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities and violations of human rights, and to assist them in doing so. ICMP works with Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Health, the Martyrs Foundation, the Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs and the Kurdish Regional Government’s Ministry of Health since 2008. ICMP has offices in Baghdad and Erbil.