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UA 173/19
Abgeschlossen am 27. Januar 2020

Human rights lawyer forcibly disappeared

AI-Index: MDE 14/1581/2019

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.


On 1 October 2019, mass protests broke out across Iraq fuelled by high rates of unemployment and perceptions of widespread corruption. Peaceful protesters were met with unlawful and excessive force, including tear gas, live ammunition and sniper fire. In addition to unlawful killings of protesters, Iraqi security forces have beaten, arrested and forcibly disappeared activists, lawyers and journalists. There have been over 400 documented deaths and more than 19,000 injured since October. Amnesty International has been documenting cases of abduction and enforced disappearances of activists and journalists since the beginning of the protests.

In the case of Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Heliji, his family reported the incident to the local police station as well as the Iraq National Security Service (Amn al-Watani). Authorities have told Ali’s family that they have started an investigation but it has not led to his release or to informing his family of his whereabouts. The PMU are comprised of large, well-established militia groups, which were officially designated as part of the Iraqi armed forces in February 2016.

Amnesty International continues to document an array of violations against activists and protesters. Most recently on 7 December 2019, a convoy of pick-up trucks carrying gunmen started shooting at protesters in Tahrir Square in Baghdad killing at least 20 and injuring more than 130.

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