Iraq: Iraq: NRT director and journalist arrested following report
Update: Iraq: On 05 June 2017, the Investigation Court in Kalar ordered the release of journalist Awat Ali, director of Kurdish-language NRT, on bail of six million Iraqi dinars (USD$5160).
On 04 June 2017, the Kalar police arrested journalist Awat Ali, director of the Kurdish-language TV channel NRT, after the Kalar Investigation Court ordered that he be detained until 07 June pending investigation. Kalar is located in Sulaymaniyah Governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Ali’s arrest and detention concern a report broadcasted recently by NRT about a man who stole milk and diapers and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The report was prepared by NRT’s correspondent in the district of Kalar, Aram Bakhtyar, who was released after being held for 14 days following his arrest on 22 May 2017.
"The decision by the Court of Kalar to detain the director of the NRT TV channel guarantees the protection of the rights of the complainant without providing for the rights of the defendant," the Metro Center for the Defense of Journalists' Rights said in a statement. "According to the Kurdistan Journalism Labour Law, No. 35 of 2007, it is possible to release Awat Ali on bail," added the statement.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its deep concern at the arrest and detention of Awat Ali, as well as for his safety, particularly since Ali was threatened with death prior to his arrest and was not released on bail, according to the law.
GCHR urges the authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Awat Ali;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological safety and integrity of Awat Ali as long as he remains in detention; and
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Iraq are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all 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.”