Cablegate: Letter From Srs On Freedom of Opinion and Esa

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Mission received the following communication from Ambeyi
Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection
of Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and Philip Alston,
Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Abritrary
Executions, regarding the fatal shooting of Mr. Waleed
Khaled in Iraq. This communication has been forwarded to
IO/SHA via e-mail and is number 32 on the Geneva 2005
Communications Log.

2. Begin text of letter:

REFERENCE: AL G/SO 214 (67-13)
USA 11/2005

16 September 2005


We have the honour to address you in our capacities as
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the
right to freedom of opinion and expression and Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolutions 2002/48
and 2004/37 respectively.

In this connection, we should like to bring to your
Government's attention - as well as to the attention of the
Government of Iraq, which we are addressing in this matter
as well - information we have received concerning the fatal
shooting of Waleed Khaled, a 24-year old TV soundman working
for Reuters, based in Samawa.

According to information received, on 28 August 2005 a
Reuters TV crew consisting of Waleed Khaled and the
cameraman Haider Khadem went to the site of a terrorist
attack that had resulted in the death of two Iraqi policemen
in the Hay-al-Adil district of West Baghdad. Upon arrival at
the scene, a United States military sniper standing on the
roof of a shopping centre opened fire on him, hitting him
fatally once in the head and four times in the chest. Mr.
Khadem was slightly wounded and immediately arrested by U.S.
forces. A U.S. military statement said that "U.S. Task Force
Baghdad units responded to a terrorist attack on an Iraqi
Police convoy. (...) One civilian was killed and another was
wounded by small-arms fire during the attack."

Without in any way implying any determination on the facts
and circumstances of this case, we would like to refer Your
Excellency's Government to the fundamental principles
applicable to such an incident under international law.
Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights provides that no one shall be arbitrarily
deprived of his or her life. As the Human Rights Committee
has clarified, "arbitrarily" means in a manner
"disproportionate to the requirements of law enforcement in
the circumstances of the case" (Views of the Committee in
the case Suarez de Guerrero v. Colombia, Communication no.
45/1979, 13.3). In order to assess whether the use of
lethal force was proportionate to the requirements of law
enforcement, there must be a "thorough, prompt and impartial
investigation" (Principle 9 of the Principles on the
Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal,
Arbitrary and Summary Executions). This principle was
recently reiterated by the 61st Commission on Human Rights
in Resolution 2005/34 on "Extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions" (OP 4), stating that all States have
"the obligation ... to conduct exhaustive and impartial
investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial,
summary or arbitrary executions".

In Resolution 2005/38 the Commission on Human Rights
restated this principle with specific regard to acts of
violence against journalists, calling on States to
investigate such acts and to bring those responsible to
justice, and adding explicitly that the principle applied
also in situations of armed conflict. Respect of the
outlined norms of international law is crucial not only in
order to protect the right to life of journalists, but also
to ensure respect for the right to freedom of opinion and
expression, as set forth in article 19 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and reiterated in article 19 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It is our responsibility under the mandates provided to us
by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the
appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly, to seek to
clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are
expected to report on these cases to the Commission, we
would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations
on the following matters:

1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case

2. Please provide the details, and where available the
results, of any investigation, medical examinations, and
judicial or other inquiries that may have been carried out
in relation to the shooting of Waleed Khaled. Have penal,
disciplinary or administrative sanctions been imposed in
connection with this incident? If no inquiries have taken
place or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
3. Please explain what rules of engagement or policies are
in place to protect the right to life and physical
integrity, as well as the right to freedom of expression and
information, of journalists covering terrorist attacks in
Iraq, in order to prevent incidents such as the one
resulting in the death of Waleed Khaled.
4. Please indicate whether compensation has been provided
to the victim or the family of the victim.
We would appreciate a response within sixty days. We
undertake to ensure that your Government's response to each
of these questions is accurately reflected in the reports we
will submit to the Commission on Human Rights for its

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest

Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the
right to freedom of opinion and expression

Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary

End text of letter.


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