Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Death of Jacky Sutton, IWPR's Iraq Chief

Grief at sudden death of a talented and capable friend and colleague.
By IWPR
  • Jacky Sutton. (Photo: Hassan al-Ghezzi)
    Jacky Sutton. (Photo: Hassan al-Ghezzi)

We at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting are devastated to announce the death of our country director in Iraq, Jacky Sutton.

Jacky, who was 50, was found dead at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport overnight on October 17-18. She had flown from London to take an onward flight to her base in Erbil in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

The circumstances of her death are unclear, and we are trying to establish the facts.

Jacky was appointed IWPR’s acting country director in Iraq at the end of June. She replaced Ammar Al Shahbander, who was killed in a car bomb attack on May 2. She had been in London to join Ammar’s family, friends and colleagues at a memorial service held for him at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street last week.

“Jacky was one of the top development professionals working on Iraq, and she devoted nearly ten years of her life to helping the country,” said Anthony Borden, Executive Director of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. “She was extremely bright, highly competent, and well able to handle herself in difficult environments, and she was universally loved. We are in total shock.”

Jacky Sutton was a veteran journalist and media development expert, and worked closely with IWPR long before joining us. She spent two years at the BBC World Service in 1998-2000, reporting from Africa and the Middle East as well as in London. She went on to serve with the United Nations in numerous senior roles that took her from Afghanistan and Iran to West Africa and Gaza, and in 2008, Iraq. After running a media and elections project for UNDP in Baghdad, she became country director for IREX and then a consultant for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Baghdad.

Jacky earned multiple advanced academic qualifications including in constitutional law and international development, all of which brought intellectual rigour and a broad vision to her professional roles. Her LLM, for example, focused on Iraq’s regulatory framework for media and telecoms and its impact on freedom of expression. Most recently, she was working on a PhD on the position of female journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan, studying at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Jacky was returning to Iraq full of plans for innovative new work, including projects to counter violent extremism that threatens a country to which she was so committed. Our condolences go out to her family and all those who knew her.