Beirut, January 10, 2020—The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the killing of two journalists working for the Iraqi broadcaster Dijlah TV, and urged Iraqi authorities to immediately open an investigation and hold those responsible to account.
Unknown gunmen today opened fire on a car carrying Dijlah TV reporter Ahmed Abdul Samad and camera operator Safaa Ghali, according to news reports and the journalists’ employer. They were covering protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, reports said.
“No journalist should have to fear for their safety or be singled out for attack over their coverage of protests,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on the Iraqi authorities to immediately open an investigation into the killing of Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safaa Ghali and to do their utmost to ensure journalists can cover the protests freely and without fear of reprisal.”
A video posted on Dijlah TV’s website and widely circulated on social media shows Samad slumped in the passenger seat, with a bullet wound to the right side of his head. The video shows at least three bullet holes in the right front door of the car.
Ghali was taken to Basra General Hospital where he died shortly afterward, according to news reports and his employer. A report by the news website Al-Mirbad said that Ghali had three bullet wounds in the chest.
A few hours prior to his death, Samad posted a video on his Facebook account criticizing how Iraqi security forces arrested protesters in Basra but did not arrest or beat those protesting in front of the U.S. Embassy. Dijlah TV also posted undated footage of Samad interviewing protesters on its social media accounts.
Hundreds of people have been killed since the start of protests across Iraq in October over a lack of basic services, unemployment, and government corruption, according to the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq.
CPJ documented how on November 12, Iraq’s media regulator, the Communications and Media Commission, ordered the shutdown of Dijlah TV, which is based in Amman, Jordan, and seven other outlets, and Iraqi security forces on November 26 implemented that order by raiding the Baghdad office of Diljah TV.
At least two other Iraqi journalists have been killed since the beginning of the protests in Iraq on October 1, according to CPJ research.