Iraq Executes 17 in One Day Despite UN Rebuke

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Common Dreams

Iraq Executes 17 in One Day Despite UN Rebuke

UN Commissioner had urged an immediate moratorium on the death penalty.

by
Common Dreams staff

Iraq executed 17 more people on Wednesday, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said, bringing to at least 51 the number of executions so far this year.

Iraq executed 17 more people on Wednesday, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said, bringing to at least 51 the number of executions so far this year. 34 people, including two women, were executed on January 19th, according to the UN human rights office.

"The justice ministry carried out (death) sentences against 17 people condemned for terrorist and criminal crimes ... on Tuesday," a government statement said.

Iraq ignored calls from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and human rights groups to halt executions.

Last November, Amnesty International said “Iraq must immediately commute the death sentences of the hundreds of people remaining on death row in the country. The authorities must also ensure that trials meet international standards for fair trial, and are not based on confessions extracted under torture and other ill-treatment.”

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Reuters reports:

The Justice Ministry said the accused had been convicted of terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping and murder. Ministry statistics indicated that Iraq executed 34 people in January.

"The Ministry of Justice is moving forward in carrying out fair punishment for criminals spilling Iraqi blood," Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimari said. [...]

Rights group Amnesty International has expressed concern about the use of the death penalty in Iraq. Human Rights Watch said in January that Iraq risked sliding back into authoritarian rule.

Executions were suspended after Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003 but reintroduced in 2004 by Iraqi authorities who said the death penalty was needed to combat a wave of sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents.

Agence France-Presse reports:

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed shock last week at the number of executions, criticizing the lack of transparency in court proceedings and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty.

"I call on the government of Iraq to implement an immediate moratorium on the institution of the death penalty," she said.

"Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day," said Pillay, a South African high court judge.

"Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offenses for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure," she said.

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Meanwhile, the Egyptian news service Bikya Masr reported:

Saudi Seeks Swap for Royals on Iraq Death Row

Saudi Arabia is looking for a prisoner exchange with Iraq after three members of the Saudi royal family have been reported to be on death row in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia is looking for a prisoner exchange with Iraq after three members of the Saudi royal family have been reported to be on death row in Iraq.The ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom has continued efforts to push for an exchange of 6 Saudi nationals, including the royals, with Baghdad, local Iraqi state-run media reported on Monday.

Iraqi Lawmaker Kamila al-Moussawi told the al-Sabah newspaper that three of the 6 Saudi nationals currently on death row are members of the royal family.

Saudi Arabia’s royalty, the Al Saud family, is composed of thousands of members, though power rests with descendants of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul-Aziz.

“Saudi Arabia seeks a deal with the Iraqi government to exchange them with convicted Iraqis inside the kingdom,” said al-Moussawi, of the National Alliance, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Al-Moussawi’s announcement came a few days after Saudi newspaper Al Eqtisadiya reported that the proposed deal would cover 113 Saudi prisoners in Iraq, including six on death row, and 138 Iraqi prisoners in Saudi Arabia, of whom 11 are facing execution.

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