Urgent Interventions

Iraq: Ms. Safia Taleb Al Souhail and her family have been the subject of threats and harassment


IRQ 001/0104/OBS 030
Threats and harassment
3rd May 2002

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH and the OMCT, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iraq.

Brief description of the situation

The Observatory has been informed by the International Alliance for Justice (AIJ) that Ms. Safia Taleb Al Souhail, an Iraqi human rights defender, and her family have been the subject of threats and harassment.

According to the information received, Ms. Safia Taleb Al Souhail, who is the publisher of Al Manar Al Arabi newspaper and the Advocacy Director for the Arab and Islamic World at AIJ, has received threats believed to be from the Iraqi government intelligence “Al Moukhabart”. Ms. Al Souhail is the daughter of Sheikh Taleb Al Souhail, a former leader of the Beni Tamim tribe, who was assassinated in Beirut, in 1994 by Iraqi diplomats. She recently received threats in Jordan, reportedly carried by a special messenger, warning that she would suffer the same fate of her father. Her family in Amman and Beirut has also received several death threats made by telephone.

According to the report, Ms. Al Souhail is believed to be being intimidated in retaliation to her denunciation of the human rights violations committed by the Iraqi government, as well as her request to the Lebanese authorities to reopen her father’s file, since the Iraqi perpetrators who admitted to the crime received diplomatic immunity.

More recently, Ms. Al Souhail had organised a conference on March 9th, 2002, held in Jordan, calling for the impeachment of the Iraqi vice-president Ibrahim Al Douri and the Iraqi leadership. The Iraqi government reportedly sent an eminent Lebanese personality as an intermediary that offered to return Ms. Al Souhail’s family confiscated money and land in Baghdad in exchange for her silence, and added that a refusal would have serious consequences for her and her family. Following Ms. Al Souhail’s contribution to a series of articles on her father’s assassination published on April 12, 2002, in Azzaman, a London based Arabic newspaper, a letter allegedly coming from the Beni Tamim tribe, was published in Azzaman, on April 24th and the Al Nahrain website on April 26th, threatening that if anything happened to leaders of Beni Tamim tribe and in particular the Al Souhail family, it would be the responsibility of the author of these articles, and cited the assassination of Mr. Al Souhail as one of such acts. According to the report, this letter is believed to have been sent by the Iraqi intelligence that has used the name of the Bani Tamim tribes, in an act of intimidation against the opposition to the Iraqi regime.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Iraq urging them to:

i. put an end to all forms of harassment against Ms. Safia Taleb Al Souhail and her family;
ii. guarantee an immediate investigation into the circumstances of these events, identify those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;
iii. ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in particular its Article 1 which provides that "Every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international level";
iv. Conform with the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.


· S.E.M. Samir K. K. Al-Nima, Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Mission permanente de la République d’Iraq auprès de l’Office des Nations Unies a Genève, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28a, 1209 Genève, Suisse, Fax: 004122 7330326, E-mail:

Please also write to the embassies of Iraq in your respective country.

Geneva-Paris, May 3rd , 2002

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken, quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a joint FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the Emergency Line: Fax : 33 (0) 1 55 80 83 92
Tel. : FIDH 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 OMCT : + 41 22 809 49 39


Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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