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Iraqi Kurdistan: NRT correspondent Ribwar Kakaie attacked during live coverage of the Kurdistan Parliament session

2017-10-30

During a live television broadcast at about 7:00 pm on 29 October 2017, NRT’s TV crew was attacked by demonstrators with batons who stormed the Parliament building in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq. Local sources report that NRT reporter Ribwar Kakai was severely injured during the attack and was taken to hospital. A reporter of KNN TV, Saleh Harki, and several other journalists were also attacked.

A number of demonstrators, some of them carrying batons, stormed the Parliament building in Erbil, expressing their anger at the decision of the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, not to extend his term of office. Security forces did not prevent demonstrators from breaking into the Parliament, where they attacked a number of opposition deputies and journalists who were in the Parliament building to cover the session.

Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan, remains one of the world's most dangerous and most threatening countries for journalists in general, and local journalists in particular, especially since they may not always receive the safety and security training offered to international journalists.

The Director of Metro Center for Defending Journalists' Rights, Rahman Gharib said that "the attacks against the journalists represent a flagrant violation of the law, especially since it occurred inside and adjacent to the parliament building." He added in his communication with the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) that “the security services had to do their duty and prevent the attacks."

The GCHR denounces this brutal attack on journalists, and calls on the KRG to:

  1. Conduct an immediate, independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the assault on the NRT TV crew and other journalists, with a view to identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice;
  2. Ensure the physical and psychological integrity of Ribwar Kakai, in addition to providing security;
  3. Enhance the protection of press freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan;
  4. Ensure in all circumstances the ability of all human rights defenders, including journalists in Iraq, to ​​carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of retaliation and without any restrictions, including judicial harassment.

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, recognises 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): “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.