Iraq: Repeated targeting of journalists creates repressive environment and provokes protests in the country


GENEVA – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties strongly condemns continuos cases of targeting journalists in Iraq without accountability and effective measures by the authorities to pursue the perpetrators. These actions constitute flagrant violation of the right to life and security, freedom of opinion and expression.

By this statement, the Geneva Council warns of the risk that targeting journalists may become systematic policy with the aim to eliminate the protest movement witnessed in Iraq for several months.

On Friday, the unidentified gunmen assassinated the correspondent of the “Degla” satellite channel, Ahmed Abdel Samad, and photographer, Safaa Ghali, after they finished covering the protests in the city center.The reporter Abdul Samad died at the site of the attack, while the photographer Ghali died after being transferred to the hospital, noting that Abdul Samad recorded a video clip shortly before his targeting of his support for the popular demonstrations against the government and the ruling political elite, and criticised the security crackdown on the demonstrators.

On 7 December, the photojournalist Ahmed Al-Muhanna was killed by being stabbed by an unidentified machine by unknown persons in a protest square in the center of the capital, Baghdad.

In parallel, unidentified gunmen kidnapped the photographer Zaid Muhammad Al-Khafaji from the front of his house in the Cairo neighborhood, north of Baghdad, after returning from Tahrir Square in the center of the capital.

Activists in the protests have been subjected to coordinated attacks, such as assassinations, kidnappings and torture, since the outbreak of the protests more than two months ago, while the frequency of targeting has increased dramatically in recent weeks.

Iraq has witnessed unprecedented popular protests since the beginning of October 2019, interspersed with violence that left 500 people dead and more than 17,000 wounded, according to official human rights and other medical and security sources.

The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties condemns the escalation of crimes and violations against journalists, and considers that such shameful incidents express a deliberate policy of terrorizing them in order to stop their coverage and their professional work in following the developments of the popular protests.

GCRL affirms the responsibility of the Iraqi authorities to open immediate investigations into violations against journalists, to hold those behind them accountable, and to take immediate measures to protect journalists and carry out their message.

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