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EU speaks out to defend Duhok journalists, activists

  2021-05-10  | 
 Zhyan News Network
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – The European Union in Iraq on Monday (May 10) expressed concerns about court ruling against Duhok’s five journalists and activists, urging the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) “to meet its human rights obligations.”

The Delegation of the European Union and the EU Head of Mission in Iraq decided to issue a statement assessing an Erbil court decision to uphold the prison sentence against five journalists and activists in the Kurdistan Region.

“Freedom of expression and press freedom as well as the right to a fair trial are fundamental components of democratic societies, enabling transparent and accountable institutions and good governance,” said the Delegation of the European Union and the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States in Iraq after an agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Iraq.

On April 2021, the Kurdistan Region Court of Cassation approved a six-year imprisonment sentence handed down to the three journalists and two activists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Hariwan Isaa, Ayaz Karam and Shvan Saeed on February 16 by an Erbil criminal court over charges amounting to undermining the security and stability of the Kurdistan Region.

All those detained have denies the charges and said their confessions were taken under duress or tampered.

“This ruling negatively impacts on the space for dissenting voices in the KRI as well as the ability of members of the press to report without fear of retaliation or arbitrary restrictions,” the European Union in Iraq said.

“The EU Delegation and the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States in Iraq further note with concern the references made in the verdict to contacts between the accused and foreign embassies, including the German Consulate General in Erbil, and recall that regular exchanges with civil society are an integral part of the work of diplomatic representations worldwide,” it added.

It called on the KRG “to fully meet its human rights obligations, including on the right to a fair trial and due process, and to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of expression and press freedom.”

Germany and France have lambasted the court ruling and the charge related to visits to diplomatic visits. Despite declining to comment on the court matter, the US has reiterated its support to the freedom of the press and media work.

(Zhyan English)