Secretary-General Guterres Must Intervene to Stop Iraqi Reprisals

GENEVA, July 10, 2019 — In a legal appeal sent today to UN leaders, the Geneva-based non-governmental organization UN Watch urged the world body to stop Iraq from retaliating against Miss Iraq Sarah Idan for her UN testimony criticizing Iraqi abuses and advocating peace with Israel.

Following Idan’s speeches on June 25th and 26th before the UN’s highest human rights body, the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee reportedly called yesterday for her Iraqi citizenship to be revoked, labeling her advocacy a “crime.”
Iraqi MP Ali al-Ghanmi added that Idan should be “held accountable by law” and banned from entering the country, according to a statement to Iraqi news site Baghdad Today. The threat follows similar calls from social media users and local activists, who have urged retaliation since Idan began to advocate ties between Iraq and Israel in 2017.
UN Watch, which hosted Idan at the UNHRC in Geneva after honoring her as its 2019 Ambassador for Peace, sent its appeal today to UN chief Antonio Guterres, human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet, Human Rights Council president Coly Seck, and assistant secretary-general Andrew Gilmour, who is charged with addressing reprisals.
The human rights group noted that Iraq—a member of the UN Human Rights Council—is obliged to prevent acts of intimidation against Ms. Idan, protect her, and hold the perpetrators accountable, in accordance with General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions.
“We urge you to dispatch an immediate demarche to Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN Bahr Aluloom and demand an end to the intimidation of Sara Idan for her testimony before the UN. Reprisals against her amount to a violation of her right to free speech,” tweeted UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.
In its letter, UN Watch also calls on UNHRC officers to report the case to relevant UN bodies that address reprisals, in order to hold Iraqi authorities accountable for the threats against Idan.
“It is the primary responsibility of states to prevent intimidations and reprisals, and when faced with such allegations, to investigate them and prosecute and punish the perpetrators,” said Neuer. “Iraq cannot be a member of the UN human rights council while failing to respect its minimal obligations, such as protecting witnesses who appear before it.”
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