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Iraq: Bodyguards of the National Security Advisor Attack A Group of Journalists

Source: Gulf Center for Human Rights

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On 18 February 2015, a group of journalists was attacked by the bodyguards of Iraq’s National Security Advisor, Faleh Al-Fayad, who was attending a seminar at the Al-Nahrain Centre for Strategic Studies in Baghdad.

The attack started when one of the journalists tried to take a photo in front of Al-Fayad. The journalist was allegedly beaten by the bodyguards and, when other journalists protested in solidarity with their colleague, many of them were attacked as well.

Journalists Senan Al-Saba’a and Ahmed Al-Ebdari were reportedly severely beaten during the assault. Al-Saba’a sustained a broken arm and Al-Ebdari suffered many punches to his face. Both were transferred to the hospital to get treatment.

Information received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirms that after the attacks the security forces detained all the photojournalists present for five hours after confiscating their cameras and mobile phones.

The GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the attacks by the bodyguards of the National Security Adviser against the journalists, as well as the illegal detention of the photojournalists for five hours. The GCHR believes that the attacks and detention have no justification whatsoever and are solely motivated by the journalists’ peaceful and legitimate journalism work.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in Iraqi to:

1. Carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the attacks and detention with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with local laws and international standards;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in the Iraqi are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The 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 5 (a): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels to meet or assemble peacefully.”