"I haven't seen my children for 10 years; I did not want them to see me in this terrible predicament," Walid Yunis Ahmad told an Amnesty International delegation that visited him in prison in June 2010.
Walid Yunis Ahmad has been detained without charge or trial since his arrest in Erbil, the capital city of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI), on 6 February 2000.
He was arrested by the Kurdish security police (Asayish) after he was given a lift in a car that allegedly contained explosives. The driver, who was also arrested, was released three months later.
For the next three years after his arrest, Walid’s family did not know where he was or whether he was dead or alive. He was tortured and kept in solitary confinement during his enforced disappearance. He has been moved from one prison to another without explanation and is currently held at the Asayish headquarters in Erbil.
A high number of people are detained without charge or trial in the KRI on suspicion of belonging or sympathising with Islamist groups, especially Ansar al Islam. Most have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated; others are victims of enforced disappearances.
Many of these detainees are from Mosul, which is in an area outside the three Kurdish provinces administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) but which is disputed by the KRG and the Federal government of Iraq in Baghdad, and to a great extent under the day to day influence or control of KRG security forces.
Some of the detainees were arrested by KRG security forces; others by US forces who handed them over to the KRG. Many have been detained since before 2006 when the KRG introduced an anti-terrorism law.
The Kurdish authorities say that they cannot prosecute Walid Yunis Ahmad as the anti-terrorism law was introduced six years after his detention and the Iraqi Penal Code does not cover terrorism offences. However, the Penal Code does proscribe acts that undermine internal or external state security.
Walid Yunis Ahmad is therefore being held indefinitely without any prospect of being charged or tried, in clear violation of international law.
Image: Walid Yunis Ahmad, detained without charge or trial since 2000. © Amnesty International