EU expresses "concern" about trial of journalists in South Kurdistan

Criticizing the latest court ruling against journalists and activists in South Kurdistan, the EU issued a statement calling for the respect of rights in many issues, including fair trial and freedom of expression.

Kurdish journalists Şerwan Şerwani, Guhdar Zebari and Ayaz Karam, as well as activists Şivan Saeed Omar and Hariwan Issa, were sentenced to 6 years in prison in April, after a close 9-hour trial celebrated in Hewlêr for two days. This decision was later upheld by the court of appeal in South Kurdistan.

The statement published by the European Union Iraqi Delegation drew attention to the pressure against opposition journalists and activists in South Kurdistan. The statement, which expressed not only the concern of the EU Iraqi Delegation but also that of other member states, underlined that the freedom of the press is mandatory for democratic, transparent and reliable institutions.

The statement also emphasized that the court's decision prevented different voices from being heard in South Kurdistan and prevented journalists from practicing their profession without fear. The statement noted that even the meetings of some journalists with the German Consulate or civil society organizations in Hewlêr were included in the indictment, and said that this was “alarming.”

The statement called for the South Kurdistan government to fulfil its responsibilities in issues such as human rights, fair trial, freedom of expression and press.