The United Nations in Iraq has strongly condemned the death of a journalist who was seized by armed men in Dohuk city on 13 August and has called on the government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to implement urgent measures to guarantee the safety of all journalists and media professionals.
“I am deeply disturbed by the killing of this journalist,” said Gyorgy Busztin, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, in a statement today.
“Such an act appears to be part of a growing pattern of threats, intimidation and violence directed against journalists and other media professionals carrying out their duties in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” he added.
According to UN Iraq, the body of Widad Hussein Ali, a freelance reporter and news website journalist, was found hours after the abduction, unconscious on the side of a road with severe head injuries, bruising and other serious wounds that displayed strong signs of severe beatings and other forms of ill-treatment. Mr. Ali’s died at the hospital and a police investigation was immediately launched into murder.
“Such incidents threaten the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to seek, impart and receive information which are fundamental to a democratic State,” stressed Mr. Busztin, who called upon the government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to ensure that the crime was “urgently and thoroughly investigated” and that the perpetrators were held accountable according to the law.
“A space for open debate and freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region will only be maintained if justice is done and security measures are in place to safeguard all media professionals,” underscored Mr. Busztin. “I urge the Kurdistan Regional authorities to promote a safe and enabling environment for all journalists to perform their work independently and without interference.”