Journalist Sherwan Sherwani arbitrarily detained for his media coverage in Kurdistan

Journalist Sherwan Sherwani arbitrarily detained for his media coverage in Kurdistan

On October 7, 2020, Iraqi Kurdish journalist Sherwan Sherwani was arrested and subsequently forcibly disappeared for 19 days. Since October 26, 2020, he has been detained at the Asayish Gishti detention centre in Erbil, where he was allegedly subjected to torture. MENA Rights Group and Reporters Without Borders strongly believe that Sherwani’s critical reporting on human rights violations, social injustice and political corruption in the Kurdistan region are the reason for his detention.
Latest Updates
February 16, 2021: Together with four other journalists and activists, Erbil’s Criminal Court convicts Sherwani to six years in prison for “threatening national security”.
November 27, 2020: Six UN Special Procedures mandate holders send a letter to the Iraqi Government requesting additional information and/or comments on Sherwani’s alleged enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.
November 27, 2020: MENA Rights Group and Reporters Without Borders request the urgent intervention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary or enforced disappearances.
October 26, 2020: Sherwani’s lawyer is allowed to visit him for the first time at the Asayish Gishti detention centre in Erbil. Sherwani informs his lawyer that he was subjected to torture by those interrogating him to force him to confess to the accusations made against him.
October 11, 2020: The Kurdistan regional government’s international advocacy coordinator accuses Sherwani on Twitter of receiving “foreign funding with the aim of destabilising the country”, endangering the lives of judges, and encouraging violence during anti-government protests.
October 7, 2020: Sherwani is arbitrarily arrested in his home in Erbil.

Sherwan Sherwani is an independent Iraqi Kurdish journalist who mainly investigates and denounces cases of human rights violations and social injustice in Kurdistan as well as of political corruption within regional governmental institutions.

On October 7, 2020, Sherwan Sherwani was arrested in his home in Erbil by plain-clothed men with their faces covered. The arrest warrant he was presented with did not indicate the reason for his arrest. Following his arrest, Noau was forcibly disappeared for 19 days.

On October 11, 2020, the Kurdistan regional government’s international advocacy coordinator accused Sherwani on Twitter of receiving “foreign funding with the aim of destabilising the country” – a crime punishable by life imprisonment –, of endangering the lives of judges, and of encouraging violence during anti-government protests. Sherwani later told his lawyer that he was kept in solitary confinement and subjected to acts of torture by his interrogates, with the aim of forcing him to confess to these accusations.

On October 26, 2020, Sherwani’s lawyer was allowed to visit his client for the first time at the Asayish Gishti detention centre in Erbil, which is run by the Kurdish security agency. The lawyer reported that Noau’s psychological and physical state had considerably deteriorated. Moreover, the Asayish authorities repeatedly denied Sherwani’s family the right to visit him.

On November 27, 2020, six UN Special Procedures mandate holders sent a letter to the Iraqi Government requesting additional information and/or comments on Sherwani’s alleged enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.

On February 15, 2021, Sherwani’s trial at the second branch of Erbil’s Criminal Court started. On February 16, 2021, together with four other journalists and activists, he was convicted to six years in prison on the vague charge of “threatening national security”.

In the past, Sherwani has been subjected to harassment and intimidation by the Kurdish authorities due to his journalistic activities. MENA Rights Group and Reporters Without Borders thus have strong reasons to believe that Sherwan Sherwani’s critical reporting is the reason for his conviction.