With great sadness and sorrow, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) received the news of the assassination of journalist and human rights defender Kawa Kermyani, aged 32 years, in the town of Kelar in the province of Sulaymaniyah, 270 km north of the capital Baghdad.
Kawa Kermyani worked as chief editor of the local Kurdish magazine “Rayal” and correspondent for the weekly magazine “Awene” and had written several articles about corruption in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. He faced many cases in the judiciary related to his anti-corruption writings raised against him by officials and others.
At 9:15 evening on 5 November 2013, two unidentified gunmen opened fire on Kawa Kermyani and killed him in front of his house in the district of Kelar.
The GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the assassination of Kawa Kermyani and believes it is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate journalism work, in particular his writings about corruption writing and call for combat it in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan to:
1. Carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the killing of Kawa Kermyani with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with local laws and international standards;
2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all human rights defenders and journalists in the Iraqi Kurdistan;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in the Iraqi Kurdistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”