Urgent Action: Human Rights Lawyer Forcibly Disappeared (Iraq: UA 173.19)
December 23, 2019
On 8 October 2019, armed men suspected of belonging to the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) abducted Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Heliji, a 29-year-old lawyer representing arrested protesters, in Baghdad, Iraq. To date, Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Heliji’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown.
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Dr. Yassin Taher al-Yassiri Minister of Interior
Al-Kailan neighbourhood behind Al-Shaab Stadium
Email: [email protected]
On 8 October 2019, Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Heliji, a 29-year-old lawyer, received a call from a woman asking to meet for work in a central area of Ammarah in al-Mayssan governorate. On the same day, Ali met the with the prospective client as agreed. Shortly after, armed men in two black pick-up trucks suspected of belonging to the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) dragged him away from his car and drove him away in one of the trucks.
According to information obtained by Amnesty International, the armed men are believed to belong to a faction of the PMU and targeted Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Heliji because of his work representing protesters and for speaking out on social media about violations committed by the PMU against protesters. Two days before this ambush, two armed men from the PMU came to his home threatening to kill him if he did not stop speaking out about protesters’ killings on Facebook. Members of the PMU also threatened his relatives when they attempted to report the incident.
Since the beginning of the mass protests across the country, many journalists and activists have been threatened and targeted, as well as abducted and forcibly disappeared. Authorities have failed to carry out independent and impartial investigations into the violations committed against activists, journalists and other peaceful protesters. There is evidence that security forces may be involved in the campaign to intimidate and silence protesters, activists and journalists.
I call on you to urgently use all resources at your disposal to find Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Heliji and secure his safe release, immediately investigate his abduction as an enforced disappearance, in accordance with Iraq’s obligations under international human rights law, and to keep his family informed of developments in the investigation on a regular basis and in a timely manner.