On 13 August 2016, Mr. Widad Hussein Ali, a journalist working with a news website and freelance reporter was abducted by unknown armed persons in Dohuk city. He was found hours later on the side of a road unconscious and died shortly thereafter in hospital. Mr. Ali’s body displayed serious wounds and bruising, in addition to severe injuries to his head, which strongly suggested that Mr Ali was subjected to severe beatings and other forms of ill-treatment that resulted in his death. A police investigation was immediately launched into Mr. Ali’s murder.
“I am deeply disturbed by the killing of this journalist. Such an act appears to be part of a growing pattern of threats, intimidation and violence being directed against journalists and other media professionals in carrying out their duties in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 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.” Mr. Busztin said.
“I call upon the Government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to ensure that this crime is urgently and thoroughly investigated and that the perpetrators are held accountable according to 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. I urge the Kurdistan Regional authorities to promote a safe and enabling environment for all journalists to perform their work independently and without interference,” DSRSG Busztin added.