IMMINENT THREAT TO IRAQI LAWYER BADEE IZZAT AREF
received information that the liberty and life of Badee Izzat Aref,
prominent Iraqi lawyer to Tariq Aziz and several members of the government
of President Saddam Hussein, is in danger.
Aref has been
under US house arrest for 17 days and the Maliki government is demanding he
be handed over by US authorities to face charges of defaming the Iraqi
judicial system following comments he allegedly made on the unfair trials
and summary executions of President Saddam Hussein and others.
Given the Maliki government's eagerness in summarily executing its political
opponents -- including their lawyers -- we have firm reason to believe that
Aref is in immediate danger of being tortured and/or assassinated.
On 21 June 2006, lawyer Khamis Al-Obaidi, defence counsel for late President
Saddam Hussein, was tortured and assassinated in Baghdad, joining lawyers
Sadoun Al-Janabi, killed in October 2005, and Adel Al-Zubaidi, killed in
November 2005. In all cases, witnesses alleged the Iraqi government was
involved. Al-Obaidi was the ninth person connected with the trial of
President Hussein to be killed.
Throughout the proceedings of the Iraqi Special Tribunal lawyers were
repeated threatened. This fact alone is testament that all defendants before
the Iraqi Special Tribunal faced unfair trials.
The United States is directly responsible under international law
We remind occupation authorities that Badee Izzat Aref is a protected
person under international humanitarian law, which governs the US occupation,
and has guaranteed rights under international human rights law.[i]
International humanitarian and human rights law outlaws torture and summary
execution, incommunicado detention, the
ill treatment of detainees, or denial of access to legal counsel.
Further, Aref -- as a human rights defender -- is additionally protected by
the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.[ii]
It is a grave violation of international humanitarian law to put protected
persons in danger by consciously handing them over to any party that might
violate their fundamental human rights. Given the appalling human rights
record of the Maliki government, we believe that Aref will be subject
serious violations of his human rights -- including his right to life --
unless there is urgent intervention on his behalf and US authorities respect
their duty to protect him.
The BRussells Tribunal demands
assurances of the wellbeing, liberty and security of Badee Izzat Aref. The
US occupation is directly responsible for Aref's welfare and must guarantee
The imminent danger faced by Badee Izzat Aref illustrates once again that
the US-Maliki plan for Iraq has failed and that all they can now propose is
repression and executions.
Take action now!
We call on all news agencies, human rights organisations, national and
international press associations and freedom of expression advocacy groups
to stand in solidarity with Badee Izzat Aref and all patriotic human rights
defenders in Iraq and take immediate action to help secure his rights and
all those defending the integrity of law against the ravages of the
The BRussells Tribunal Committee
Please circulate this alert widely.
For information contact:
See Articles 6-7
and 14 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 113
and 116 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in
Time of War.
UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General
Assembly (A/RES/53/144) 8 March 1999. Article 12, subsections (2) and (3)
read: "The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection
by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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 present Declaration. In this connection, everyone is
entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected
effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through
peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission,
attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and
fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or
individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental
Tribunal Committee (9
Within hours of issuing our alert we heard that Iraqi lawyer
Badee Izzat Aref
had made it outside Iraq. At this time we believe he is safe, though his
issue is unresolved with the Iraqi puppet government.
The proximity of the issuance of our alert and receiving this news
illustrates the difficulty of defending human rights in Iraq: we had been
forced to wait several days before issuing a public alert because of
substantiated fears that public attention to Aref's case may have
accelerated his execution, not prevented it.
This is the reality of Iraq under occupation, where neither the occupation
nor its client Iraqi authorities respect the rule of law or public concerns.
We thank all who reacted to this alert and who continue to work for justice
against barbarity and in solidarity with the sovereignty of Iraq and the
Dr Ian Douglas