Iraq: iaIGO Condemns the Abduction of 18 Turkish Construction Workers in Baghdad

Iraq: iaIGO Condemns the Abduction of 18 Turkish Construction Workers in Baghdad 06 September 2015

The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights (iaIGO) is deeply concerned about the welfare of 18 Turkish construction workers who were abducted in Iraq.

Approximately 18 construction workers of Turkish origin have been reportedly missing in Baghdad the capital of Iraq. The workers were working for a Turkish company contracted to build a sports stadium in the north-eastern Sadr City district. They are believed to have been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen dressed in military uniforms while they were sleeping in caravans on site.

No group has claimed responsibility of the abduction but the assault comes as Turkey increases its involvement in a U.S.-led international coalition fighting ISIL in Iraq and Syria, highlighting the risks of Turkey’s more pronounced role in the conflict. This has led ISIL to become enraged against Turkish authorities, referring to President Erdogan as “satan” and issuing a “death warrant” against him.

iaIGO for human rights strongly condemns the abduction of these workers as a violation of their rights under international humanitarian law which may amount to crime against humanity. iaIGO is equally concerned about the whereabouts and safety of these persons as it fears they may be at risk to torture and mistreatment. iaIGO stresses that abduction is classified as “enforced disappearance” under international human rights laws and should be dealt with seriously.

Article 5 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance constitutes abduction or kidnapping as “a crime against humanity as defined in applicable international law and shall attract the consequences provided for under such applicable international law.” Article 3 of the same convention encourages all state members “to take appropriate measures to investigate acts of enforced disappearance committed by persons or groups of persons acting without the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State and to bring those responsible to justice.”

In June 2014, Islamic State abducted 49 Turkish diplomats, staff, and their families as it took control of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. The Turkish government could secure their release and return them back home only after three months.

iaIGO therefore calls for the immediate release of these construction workers by any extremist group holding them captive. iaIGO also urges the Turkish government to work collaboratively with Iraqi officials to investigate and ensure the safe release and return of these 18 workers. The Iraqi government should hold accountable those responsible for the abduction under international humanitarian laws.