APF and GANHRI call for action to protect former Iraqi Commissioner
Graphic: Dr. Ali al-Bayati, former Commissioner of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights
The APF and GAHNRI hold grave concerns regarding a case of intimidation and reprisal against former IHCHR Commissioner, Dr. Ali al-Bayati.
The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) hold grave concerns regarding a case of intimidation and reprisal against former Commissioner of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), Dr Ali Akram Al-Bayati.
A case has been filed against Dr Al-Bayati by the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers of Iraq relating to comments he made to the media in his capacity as Commissioner in 2020 regarding the IHCHR’s work on combatting torture in Iraq.
We understand that the case alleges that his comments were defamatory in nature and constitute a breach of the Iraqi Penal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment.
We are deeply alarmed by this news, which appears to be an attack on the IHCHR by seeking to silence one of its commissioners, who has been an outspoken advocate for the protection of human rights in Iraq.
The Paris Principles relating to the status of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have been endorsed by the UN General Assembly and establish the international minimum standards for the mandate, performance and protection of NHRIs.
The principles require that members and staff of an NHRI are protected from both criminal and civil liability for acts undertaken in good faith in their official capacity.
It is essential that such immunity protects NHRI leadership in the context of legal proceedings commenced after the conclusion of their term of appointment.
In a letter co-signed with GANHRI, we urge senior Iraqi Government officials to take the necessary action to affirm the immunity of Dr Al-Bayati under Iraqi Law and the Paris Principles, and to protect the IHCHR from any reprisals for exercising its human rights mandate.
Read the letter here.
Date: 18 March 2022
- Dr. Ali al-Bayati, former Commissioner of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights - IHCHR