Since October 2005, some 38 lawyers in Iraq have been killed, many of whom were defending women’s rights. IRIN News, a United Nations humanitarian news and information service, reports that at least 120 lawyers have fled to surrounding countries since January because of the threats to their safety.
Lawyers at special risk for death threats and murder are those who take cases involving violations of Islamic law, such as adultery, so-called honor killings, and cases of women asking for custody of their children. In July, Iraqi lawyer Salah Abdel-Kader was found murdered in his office with a note that read, “This is the price to pay for those who do not follow Islamic laws and defend what is dreadful and dirty,” according to IRIN. He frequently took on cases involving custody disputes and honor killings.
The threat of violence has had a chilling effect on lawyers willing to take these cases. “We are afraid and terrified by such killings, and many of my colleagues have stopped accepting such cases Ñ even if it could bring good money Ñ because our lives could be in serious risk,” said Iraqi lawyer Qusay Ahmed, according to IRIN News.