In conflict-ridden Iraq, six journalists killed and many injured in recent months

Expression

Iraq continues to be one of the most dangerous countries for journalists to operate in, and freedom of expression is under constant threat. In the past two months, at least six journalists and media workers have been killed and others seriously injured. 

On 30th May 2017, Suhaib Al-Heeti, a reporter for the Asiasat network, was killed in a suicide attack in the northern Anbar city of Heet, according to the Iraq Observatory for Press Freedom and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In addition, 16 other people were reportedly killed in the attack. 

In a separate incident, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and CPJ reported that on 19th June 2017, Iraqi Kurdish journalist Bakhtiar Haddad was killed after an explosive device went off in Mosul, simultaneously injuring three French journalists, one of whom, Stéphane Villeneuve, also died due to injuries that day, and another, Veronique Robert, died within the week. Freelance journalist Samuel Forey was also injured in that same attack. The journalists were covering the counter-terrorism operation in Mosul.

According to CPJ, on 7th July Iraqi journalists Sudad Faris and Harb Hazza al-Duleimi were killed by snipers from Daesh as they reported on Iraqi soldiers' offensive to retake a village near Mosul. 

In addition to risking their lives, journalists and media outlets in Iraq have also been directly targeted by the authorities in the last two months. On 16th May, the authorities in western Al-Anbar province ordered the closure of the Ramadi office of satellite news channel Diljah TV, following a report the channel aired two days previously on local government officials' involvement in smuggling.

GCHR also reported that on 4th June, in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kalar police arrested journalist Awat Ali, director of the Kurdish-language TV channel NRT, after the Kalar Investigation Court ordered his detention until 7th June, pending an investigation. It is believed that his arrest and detention were linked to a NRT report on a man who stole milk and diapers and was subsequently sentenced to 11 years in prison. The report was prepared by NRT’s Kalar correspondent, Aram Bakhtyar, who was released after being held for 14 days following his arrest on 22nd May 2017. On 5th June, Ali was released on bail of six million Iraqi dinars ($5,160).

On 10th July 2017, according to CPJ and the organisation 17shubat for Human Rights, journalist Ibrahim Abbas was assaulted by five armed men in Erbil. Abbas was allegedly attacked on his way home by five masked and armed men. He was badly beaten in the assault and was hospiatlised.

Peaceful Assembly and Association

Members of the Conference of Iraqi Federations and Workers Unions gathered on 26th May 2017 to demonstrate against a proposed new Draft Law on Professional Federations and Unions. Iraqi Civil Society Initiative reported that trade unions claim the proposed law does not comply with the Iraqi constitution and international treaties and will undermine trade union activity. The draft was reportedly drawn up without consulting trade unions and their concerns over the draft law have been largely ignored.

In the 2017 International Trade Union Confederation Global Rights Index, Iraq was ranked as one of “the worst countries in the world to work,” as workers have no guarantee or protection of labour rights.