On March 31, 2020, two officers of the Iraqi Police Sixth Emergency Regiment assaulted Mohamed Kader al-Samarrai, director of the local broadcaster Al-Maliyah TV, after stopping him at a checkpoint to enforce the country’s COVID-19 curfew, according to a Facebook post by al-Samarrai and reports by the National Union of Journalists in Iraq and the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq, two local press rights groups.
The two officers stopped al-Samarrai while he was driving home from work in the central Iraqi city of Samarra, according to those reports.
“I waited for half an hour along with other drivers. I carried permits from the COVID-19 Crisis Cell and the Samarra Operations Command allowing me to work during curfew hours,” he wrote on Facebook.
He wrote that when he got out of his car to show the officers his permits and ask to be let through, the police officers rushed him and beat him in the head with the butts of their guns until he lost consciousness.
He was transferred to a local hospital where he was treated for bruises and other minor injuries, according to the press rights groups’ reports.
Al-Samarrai also wrote that the commander of the Sixth Emergency Regiment ordered both police officers to be arrested following the incident.
CPJ emailed the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, which oversees the country’s police, for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.