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Iraq: UN Committee urges end to impunity for enforced disappearances

27 November 2020

GENEVA (27 November 2020) – The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) has issued its findings on Iraq, calling on the State party to incorporate the offence of enforced disappearances into domestic criminal legislation, and to ensure no person is held in secret detention.

In its latest report published today, the Committee welcomed the actions undertaken by Iraq regarding enforced disappearances committed in the country. These steps include setting up two fact-finding committees in 2016 and 2018 respectively, and the drafting of the Bill on the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

CED, however, said it deeply regrets that a pattern of enforced disappearance persists over much of the territory of the State party, and that impunity and re-victimization prevail in these cases.

The Committee took note of Iraq’s efforts to draft the Bill on the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which is currently before the Council of Ministers for discussion. The Committee, on the other hand, said it is concerned by the delays in adopting the legislation, which have contributed to the continuing lack of criminalisation of the offense of enforced disappearance in the country. The Committee recommended Iraq to revise the bill in compliance with the International Convention in consultation with all stakeholders, including specialized civil society organisations, and to speed up the legislation process.

CED is also worried by the lack of reliable data on cases of enforced disappearance and the large quantity of unidentified bodies and mass graves. It recommended Iraq establish a consolidated nationwide database of all cases of disappearance that have occurred in the country since 1968. 

The Committee has received allegations about 420 places of secret detention. It urged the State party to carry out an investigation on these allegations, and to close any such facilities or convert them into regular registered and supervised detention centres, as well as to take all necessary measures to ensure that no one is detained secretly in the future.

The findings, issued by the Committee after its latest session and a special dialogue with Iraq, are now available online.


For media inquiries, please contact Vivian Kwok at +41 (0) 22 917 9362 / [email protected] or the UN Human Rights Office Media Section at +41 (0) 22 928 9855 / [email protected] 


The Committee on Enforced Disappearances monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Committee is made up of 10 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. 

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