Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

KRG Authorities Detain a Journalist for One Year

2 Jan. 2015 – JFO

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The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory expressed its concern about the continuing detention of a journalist by KRG authorities since January 2014. As there have been no reasons given for his detention, this directly violates the terms of the Iraqi constitution, as well as international conventions.

The journalist, Saif Hashim Al-Obaidi, who was detained by KRG authorities, left the city of Mosul last year, after receiving death threats by the organization, ”Daesh”, who published “a liquidation list” with the names of 44 journalists and photographers active in the province of Nineveh.

Journalists currently residing in Erbil reported to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory that Al-Obaidi is still being detained by security authorities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and has been since before the entry of “Daesh” to Mosul, when he was working in Erbil as editorial director of the “Western” satellite channel.

The detainee’s family told JFO that “Al-Obaidi worked for the Western Channel when he became a permanent resident of the governorate of Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq last year. After he completed the formalities necessary to work there, he served as editorial director of the channel”.

Mohammad Hashim, Saif’s big brother, said that his “brother received a phone call by the Erbil security (Asayish) in January of last year, telling him that he needed to visit the security office for necessary routine procedures. He then told his wife and their two children who were staying with him in Erbil that he was going to meet the Asayish”.

Mohammed added, “The last communication we had from Saif was before he entered the security office “Asayish”. The connection with him was then cut off until today, and despite many attempts to find out the reasons for his detention, we have not been able to obtain any information about the causes and circumstances of his arrest”.

Prior to his position with the Western channel, Saif Hashim Al-Obaidi, worked as reporter and editor in the city of Mosul (since 2009). There, he worked at (Iraqeyoon) newspaper as reporter, as well as in the media department of the province of Nineveh.  He then moved to work as an editor for the “Sama Al-Mosul” channel of the local government in Nineveh.

A legal adviser for the JFO, the attorney, Amir Al-Daami, draws attention to “Article 15 of the Constitution of the Republic of Iraq for the year of 2005 which stipulates that everyone has the right to life, liberty and should not be deprived of these rights or have them restricted except in accordance with the law and a competent judicial authority, as well as Article 37 / A, which states that human freedom and dignity is inviolable. Any act that counters these articles is a clear violation of the Constitution and enforced law, especially since any arrest warrant requires a court order, or a complainant, or a victim. In other words, any lawful arrest requires a specific accusation of a crime otherwise the arrest of any person without charge is a crime against humanity and the Constitution and the law”.

According to a survey conducted by the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in April of last year, nearly 40 journalists and media workers made a mass exodus of Mosul after a series of assassinations in the province: 12 journalists left the country for Turkey, 6 others left for the Kurdistan region, and approximately 20 journalists moved to districts, sub-districts and villages under the control of the Kurdistan region, which is more stable.

The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory calls for authorities in the Government of Iraq’s Kurdistan region to state the reasons for the arrest of Al-Obaidi, and to work for his immediate release, especially since this is a clear violation of the Iraqi constitution and international conventions. JFO stresses the importance of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government to deal with journalists in a manner that ensures basic rights and freedoms, and respects the foundations of democracy.