WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 5 - On Sunday attorneys formally appealed the death sentence against Saddam Hussein, opening a window of opportunity for a new, sound verdict and a fair impartial trail, states the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an international social justice organization and a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Service Committee maintains the trial seemed deeply flawed, joining Vatican officials, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Premier Romano Prodi, and other world leaders who oppose the execution of Hussein and two former aides.
The world watched as Saddam Hussein stood trial for his role in the killing of 148 Iraqi citizens from al-Dujail after an attempt to assassinate him there in 1982. However, many safeguards that would have been in place in a trial before the International Criminal Court were not enforced by the Iraqi court.
“Human rights are universal,” says Tonya McClary, national criminal justice director for the American Friends Service Committee. “Everyone deserves the right to a fair trial. These principles must be upheld even for those accused of heinous crimes, such as those for which Saddam Hussein is charged, as well as those who have been victims.”
Based on the Quaker belief that there is that of God in each person, the Service Committee consistently opposes the death penalty.
AFSC urges religious leaders to speak out against this death sentence and call for an end to executions worldwide. We encourage pastors, rabbis, imams and faith community leaders throughout the United States to educate their members on the immorality of the death penalty.
The defendants have appealed the verdict and AFSC will follow closely the appeal stage. Due process in this case must be followed as these proceedings are being watched around the world. We urge the Iraqi government to seriously consider other options such as adding international judges to the Iraqi court, or referring the case to an international tribunal.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended sending this case to an international tribunal last September.
We appeal to the U.S. government to join the call other of international leaders for an end to the death penalty and for judicial safeguards that ensure the rights of all defendants.