The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have urged the UK authorities to take immediate action to help the Kurdish journalist Ghazi Ghareeb Zorab, who is currently seeking asylum in the UK and is at risk of being deported to Iraqi Kurdistan, where his journalistic work would put him in grave danger.
Zorab is at significant risk of harm if he is returned to Iraq due to his critical writings about the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The IFJ highlighted the deteriorating situation for journalists’ human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan, with numerous cases of arbitrary arrest and attacks by security forces. The NUJ echoed these concerns and called on the UK government to prioritise the protection of journalists in precarious situations by halting Zorab’s deportation.
Zorab was arrested at the Dallas Court Immigration Centre in Salford, Manchester, where he is required to report regularly during the process of his asylum claim. Despite fears of credible threats to his life, Zorab is expected to be deported to Iraq, where his coverage of politics in the Iraqi Kurdistan region makes him a likely target for violence and torture.
Zorab’s lawyers have submitted a new asylum claim and an immigration bail application on 26 June, urging the Home Office to reconsider the case due to the safety risks associated with his journalistic work.
While the British government typically rarely grants asylum to Iraqis, considering certain areas as reasonable relocation options, the IFJ and NUJ stressed that Zorab’s case deserves special attention due to the specific risks he faces as a journalist. They emphasised the need for the UK government to reassess the situation and prioritise Zorab’s safety.