Assassination of Mr. Majeed Sahib Kareem - IRQ 001 / 1209 / OBS 178

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) about the assassination of Mr. Majeed Sahib Kareem, Internal Relations Secretary of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW).

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iraq.

According to the information received, on November 26, 2009, Mr. Majeed Sahib Kareem was killed by a bomb that had been attached to his car. Mr. Majeed Sahib Kareem was a leading force for the organisation of workers in the public sector.

The Observatory fears that Mr. Majeed Sahib Kareem’s assassination might be related to his trade-union activities, and recalls that over the past years, several trade unionists were murdered in Iraq, and that the perpetrators have not yet been found nor brought to justice.

The Observatory recalls that on March 27, 2007, Mr. Najim Abd-Jasem, General Secretary of the Mechanics, Printers and Metalworkers Union in Baghdad since 2003 and a founder as well as a leader of the GFIW, was abducted in Baghdad. His body, showing clear signs of torture, was found three days later, on March 30, 2007[1]. On January 25, 2006, Mr. Alaa Issa Khalaf, a member of the Executive Board of the Baghdad branch of the Mechanics Union, and a prominent member of the GFIW, was shot dead by several unidentified men as he left for work from his home in Baghdad. Likewise, Mr. Thabet Hussein Ali, Director of the General Trade Union for Health Sector Workers in Iraq, was abducted on April 7, 2006 by a presumed terrorist group as he was leaving his union’s headquarters in Baghdad Al-Mansour neighbourhood. His body was found the following day, riddled with gunshot wounds and bearing marks of torture[2].

The Observatory is very concerned with the murders of labour leaders that occurred over the past years in Iraq, a country where trade unionists still operate under anti-union legislation which dates back to the Saddam-era. In this regard, the Observatory urges the Iraqi authorities to immediately ratify the Convention 87 on Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Observatory more generally expresses its deepest concern at the situation of human rights defenders in Iraq, who face tremendous risk to their lives and security given the overall context, and are conducting their activities in an extremely precarious situation.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Iraq, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of members of all human rights defenders - including trade unionists - in Iraq;

ii. Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into Mr. Majeed Sahib Kareem’s assassination, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring all those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iii. Guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to the victim’s family;

iv. Put an end to any kind of harassment against all human rights defenders in Iraq and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;

v. Conform with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", and its Article 12(2), which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the [...] Declaration";

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights instruments.


· Mr. Nuri Kamil al-Maliki, Prime Minister, Baghdad, Republic of Iraq. Email: /

· Mr. Wajdan Mikhail Salam, Minister of Human Rights, Baghdad, Republic of Iraq. Email:

· Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28a, 1209 Genève, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 733 03 26, E-mail:

· Embassy of Iraq in Brussels, Avenue des Aubepines 23, 1180 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2 374.76.15. Email:


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