Iraq: GCHR’s eleventh periodic report on violations during the popular protests - Part II
This is the second part of the eleventh periodic report prepared by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) on the human rights situation in Iraq, which includes research on press freedom, arrests, threats and protests.
Iraq remains an insecure environment for independent journalists, human rights activists, and advocates, as well as all those who defend the protests and seek to combat corruption in the country.
Freedom of the press
On 23 December 2020, late at night, an armed group burned the car of journalist Ahmed Shukri Al-Jadri (Photo 14), who works as a presenter for programmes on Al-Iraqiya TV, in front of his home. Al-Jadri was one of the journalists who supported and defended the protests. Local human rights groups considered the burning of his car as an attempt to intimidate media voices who host the protesters in their programmes and support their true demands.
On 16 January 2021, a military force affiliated with the Anbar Operations Command arrested journalist Quds Al-Samarrai (Photo 15), according to an arrest warrant issued against her by the Ramadi Investigation Court in the Anbar Governorate, west of the country.
She was detained overnight by individuals working for the Tourism Security Directorate in a hotel in Baghdad. The arrest warrant was issued in accordance with Article 433 of the Iraqi Penal Code No. 111 of 1969, on charges of libel and defamation, based on a complaint against her by Major General Nasser Al-Ghannam, Commander of Anbar Operations Forces Command.
Major General Al-Ghannam sent a military force consisting of two military Hummer vehicles, accompanied by the legal official in the Anbar Operations Command, who arrested her and returned her to Anbar Governorate. The investigating judge decided to release her on bail after taking her statement on the same day. Al-Samarrai uses her Facebook page to fight corruption in the Iraqi state, especially the Ministry of Defense.
On 18 January 2021, she wrote on her Facebook page, “My question is to the lawyers and judges in general, and to the Ministry of Defense and Joint Operations in particular: is Major General Nasser Al-Ghannam entitled to transfer a journalist with an arrest warrant for defamation according to Article 433 of the Penal Code without a summons, taking her by military Hummers from the Anbar Operations Command, and in each car there are three armed men and the legal representative of this command from Baghdad to Ramadi - is this the duty of army or police?”
GCHR calls on the Iraqi authorities to protect journalists, respect their duties, and forbid the military authorities to pursue them in these illegal ways. Journalists should not be arrested on publishing-related charges.
Arrests and threats