Iraq: Prominent journalist Ahmed Abdul Samad and cameraman Safaa Ghali assassinated


On 10 January 2020, in Basra, Iraq, unidentified gunmen on a motorbike shot at journalist Ahmed Abdul Samad, a correspondent of the Dijlah satellite TV channel, killing him immediately with a fatal shot to the head. His colleague, photojournalist Safaa Ghali, was transferred to Basra General Hospital after being shot three times in the chest, and died as a result of severe injuries.

The two men were driving their car around 6pm when the attack occurred, near the Assyrian Club in Basra. They had just ended their coverage of the massive demonstrations that took place in Basra, including the sit-in that occurred in front of the Police Headquarters building after the arrest of a number of individuals. The detainees were soon released after the building was surrounded by their fellow protesters.

Samad, 39 years old, is a courageous journalist who worked with several television channels, and has made every effort to convey the voice of demonstrators in Basra. He also used his Facebook page to addressed his fellow citizens, saying, "I will use it to communicate with you to pass on your suffering and concerns. Interact with the page as it will be a challenge to politicians and help to citizens."

Hours before his assassination, the journalist published a video clip in which he criticised the crackdown on protesters and also said, "Our cause is the cause of our homeland."  Prior to his killing, Samad received many threats from militants due to his work as a journalist.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its profound grief over the killing of Ahmed Abdel Samad and Safaa Ghali, and condemns their assassination in the strongest terms. The authorities in Basra Governorate, including the Governor and the Police Commander, bear full responsibility for all assassinations taking place in the governorate, and they must uncover the perpetrators as quickly as possible and submit the cases to a fair judiciary, as well as fulfilling their constitutional obligations to protect demonstrators and not violate public freedoms, including the freedom to peacefully demonstrate and freedom of expression.