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Iraqi Kurdistan: Journalist Wedat Hussein Ali tortured and killed in the town of Duhok

2016-08-14

Reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirm that a journalist working for RojNews was found dead with torture marks on his body after he was abducted earlier in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s city of Duhok.

On 13 August 2016, journalist Wedat Hussein Ali left his home for work in the city of Duhok. He was later kidnapped in Malta district within the same city by an unknown armed group. At 12:30pm he was found dead thrown on the road between Duhok city and Cemel village. Information suggested that he was tortured to death.

Wedat Hussein was 28 years old and started working as a reporter for RojNews just several months ago. According to a statement published by RojNews, he had been summoned many times to appear for investigation before the Asayish which is the Kurdish security and the primary intelligence agency operating in the Kurdistan region.

In a statement to the GCHR, Human rights defender and Co-ordinator of the Sulaimaniyah-based Metro Centre to Defend Journalists, Rahman Gharib said, “The chronic problem that we are facing in Kurdistan is impunity.” He added “Four other journalists were killed before in our region and no one was brought to justice in relation to these crimes.” The Metro Centre is a partner of the GCHR in the Iraqi Kurdistan.

The GCHR mourns with great sadness and sorrow, the killing of journalist Wedat Hussein and believes it was solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate journalism work. We believe that the regional government in Kurdistan should enhance the protection of journalists in the region immediately and without any condition.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan to:

1. Carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the killing of Wedat Hussein with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with local laws and international standards;

2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all human rights defenders and journalists in the Iraqi Kurdistan;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in the Iraqi Kurdistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters" and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”