Iraq: Journalist and political commentator Samir Obeid rearrested and forcibly disappeared


UPDATE: Samir Obeid was released on June 13, 2018 after having been acquitted on June 12.

Geneva (February 6, 2018) – Less than two months after he was released by the Iraqi authorities following a two-month long detention based on a Facebook post, Iraqi-Norwegian freelance journalist Samir Al Daami was rearrested on February 1, 2018. The family of Al Daami, who is known for being a vocal critic of the government, has received no news from him since his arrest.

Al Daami, who is also known as Samir Obeid, and who frequently appears on TV channels such as NRT and Al Jazeera, was previously arrested on October 22, 2017 following a Facebook post criticising Iraq’s prime minister’s energy policy. For a month, he was denied access to a lawyer and his family, amounting to an incommunicado detention.

Concerned over the fact that Al Daami’s detention resulted from him exercising his fundamental right to freedom of expression, Alkarama brought his case to the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, asking him to call upon the Iraqi authorities to immediately release Al Daami. He was eventually released on December 12, 2017 and the charges held against him were dropped.

On February 1, Al Daami was travelling by car to Najaf to visit his family, when he was rearrested without a warrant by members of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS) at a checkpoint located on the southern outskirts of Baghdad, and subsequently taken to an unknown location.

The arrest was witnessed by Al Daami’s wife and other relatives travelling with him, who believe he is currently detained at the INIS’s headquarters in Baghdad. They are particularly worried about his health state, as he suffers from chronic anaemia.

Concerned over his safety after this second arrest and abduction, Alkarama submitted his case to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) on February 5, 2018, calling for the experts’ urgent intervention with the Iraqi authorities to request that they inform his family of his fate and whereabouts and release him immediately.

“We are concerned that Al Daami’s enforced disappearance is politically motivated and a blatant attempt by the Iraqi authorities to silence and undermine a critical voice,” said Inès Osman, Regional Legal Officer at Alkarama. “The Iraqi authorities must immediately release Al Daami or, at the very least, inform his family of his whereabouts and put him under the protection of the law.”

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