Syria is still one of the most dangerous places for journalists, who continue to be targeted with murder and harassment while performing their journalistic work. On 12 December 2020, masked gunmen on a motorbike shot the journalist Hussain Khattab, also known as Kara Al-Safrani, hitting him with several bullets, one of which landed in his head, while the others hit his chest, killing him instantly. He was targeted in the city of Al-Bab in the countryside of Aleppo, as he was preparing a media report on the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). His killers are currently unknown.
Khattab, originally from the city of Al-Safira in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, has been subjected to previous threats. He explained in a post on his Facebook page on 27 September 2020, that, “The person who carried a weapon and raised it in my face was Ahmed Al-Abdullah (Al-Sous). Therefore, my problem is with him in particular and the complaint I submitted was against him only.” He added, “What can I do with someone who tried to kill me and put a weapon in my face, and before that he wanted to prevent me from entering the area of ??Tarheen and tried to prevent me from filming there?”
Khattab, who was a member of the executive office of the Aleppo Media Union, worked in several media outlets, the most recent of which the Turkish TV channel TRT Arabic, for which provided video reports.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) strongly condemns the killing of the journalist Hussain Khattab, which it believes was solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful journalism work. GCHR is concerned about the hostile environment that journalists face in Syria.
In its report published to mark the International Day to End Impunity, on 02 November 2020, GCHR included cases of seven Syrian journalists who have been murdered with total impunity.
The level of impunity and the lack of accountability for attacks on journalists and the human cost of these crimes must be addressed by the international mechanisms including the United Nations, taking into account the lack of any effective local remedy. The key to protecting journalists such as Khattab is to hold the perpetrators to account and act on international and public commitments to ensure the safety of journalists and their families.
GCHR urges the authorities in the northwestern Syrian city of Al-Bab to:
Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of journalist Hussain Khattab, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards; and
Ensure the safety of the family and colleagues of Khattab, and that all those pursuing justice in his case are protected from any reprisals and threats to their lives.