Urgent Action Update: Assistant Judge’s Trial Postponed (Iraq: UA 10.20)

March 24, 2020

The trial of assistant judge Hatsyar Wshyar was postponed from 8 March 2020 to 22 and 26 April 2020, following the COVID19 outbreak in Iraq. Hatsyar remains on hunger strike since 2 February 2020 and his health has significantly deteriorated. Authorities must release Hatsyar Wshyar immediately and unconditionally, drop all charges, and ensure a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation into the torture allegations. Pending his release, authorities must urgently provide him with needed medical care, especially as the risk of contamination of prisons amidst the COVID19 epidemic puts him in serious danger.

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Judge Bengeen Qasim Mohamed Kattany
Head of the Kurdistan Region Judicial Council
Kurdistan Region Judicial Council
c/o Dr. Dindar Zebari,
Head of the Committee to Evaluate and Respond to International Reports
Erbil, Republic of Iraq
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Fareed Yasseen
Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
3421 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 742 1600 I Fax: 202 333 1129
Contact Form: https://bit.ly/2FGGCEU
Twitter: @IraqiEmbassyUSA
Facebook: @IraqiEmbassyUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Your Excellency,

The trial of assistant judge at the Sulaymaniyah court, Hatsyar Wshyar, was postponed from 8 March 2020 to 22 April 2020 and 26 April 2020, following the COVID19 outbreak in Iraq. He is being charged with “misuse of electronic devices”.

Hatsyar Wshyar has been on hunger strike to protest the court’s decision on another unfair trial he faced where was sentenced on 2 December 2019 to a one-year prison term under Article 2 of the penal code, after he was charged with “misuse of electronics”. The charges relate to his social media posts criticizing the conduct of certain judges and the manner in which the law was being implemented. In clear violation of fair trial standards, Hatsyar Wshyar was sentenced in a closed hearing, after he was denied access to his own lawyer and appointed a court lawyer instead. Moreover, the charge represents a clear violation of his right to exercise his freedom of expression.

Hatsyar Wshyar’s medical condition is steadily deteriorating as a result of his hunger strike. He faces further risks of severe illness given the outbreak of COVID19 in Iraq. Hatsyar Wshyar’s right to a fair trial and to exercise his freedom of expression have both been violated, in contradiction with Iraq’s obligations under Article 38 of the Iraqi constitution, as well as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Hatsyar Wshyar, and drop all charges in ongoing lawsuits, and ensure a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation into the claims of torture. I also urge that he have access to qualified health professionals providing health care in compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES