Iraq: Over 900 People on Death Row Face Imminent Execution

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Iraq: Over 900 People on Death Row Face Imminent Execution

WASHINGTON - The Iraqi authorities must immediately
stop the executions of more than 900 people on death row who have
exhausted their legal appeals and could be put to death at any time,
Amnesty International said.

The prisoners, who include 17 women, are said to have had their
death sentences ratified by the Presidential Council, the final step
before executions are carried out.

At least 120 people are known to have been executed in Iraq so far this year.

“In a country which already has one of the highest rates of
execution in the world, the prospect that this statistic may rise
significantly is disturbing indeed,” said Philip Luther, Deputy
Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa
Programme.    

Many of the condemned prisoners have been convicted of offences such
as murder and kidnapping. Some are likely to have been sentenced after
unfair trials.

Opposition politicians have expressed concern that executions may be
carried out to allow the ruling al-Da’wa party to gain political
advantage ahead of the elections. They have called on the government to
temporarily suspend all executions.

One of those women facing execution is Samar Sa’ad ‘Abdullah, who
was sentenced to death on 15 August 2005. She had been found guilty of
the murder of her uncle, his wife and one of their children in Baghdad.

Samar Sa’ad ‘Abdullah was reported to have blamed the killings on
her fiancé, who, she said, had carried them out in order to rob her
uncle.

At her trial, Samar Sa’ad ‘Abdullah alleged that, after her arrest,
police in Hay al-Khadhra, Baghdad, had beaten her with a cable, beaten
the soles of her feet (falaqa) and subjected her to electric shocks to
make her “confess”.

The judge failed to order an investigation into her allegations, and sentenced her to death.

Her father, Sa’ad ‘Abdel- Majid ‘Abd al-Karim, told Amnesty
International the trial was concluded in less then two days, that he
was not permitted entry to the court, and that Amal ‘Abdel-Amir
al-Zubaidi, one of Samar’s lawyers, was ordered out of the court by the
trial judge.

Samar Sa’ad ‘Abdullah's death sentence was confirmed by the Court of Cassation on 26 February 2007.

Since the reintroduction of the death penalty in August 2004, at
least 1,000 people have been sentenced to death and scores have been
executed. There are no official figures for the number of prisoners
facing execution.

After all avenues of appeal have been exhausted, death sentences are
referred to the Presidential Council composed of the President and the
two Vice-Presidents, for ratification, after which they are carried
out.

The President, Jalal Talabani, opposes the death penalty and
delegates his ratification powers to the two Vice-Presidents, who do
not oppose its use.

Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the Iraqi authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on executions.

"The Iraqi government must heed international demands to stop executions," said Philip Luther.

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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

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