September 26, 2013 - 10:23 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Amnesty International demands all executions in Iraq be halted immediately, after 13 men were executed in Baghdad.
The organization has been able to confirm the names of nine of the men, who were executed on Sept 22 following death sentences imposed after unfair trials and based on “confessions” allegedly extracted under torture. Four others were also executed that day, bringing the total number of executions in Iraq so far this year to at least 73, AI said in a press release.
“The Iraqi authorities have chosen to defy repeated calls not to execute prisoners and to rely on tainted ‘confessions’ obtained under torture. That a death sentence could be imposed after obviously grossly unfair trials beggars belief,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
Amnesty International had urged the Iraqi authorities not to carry out the executions of these nine men, and to investigate their allegations that they were tortured to coerce them into making confessions. The court trying them appears to have disregarded compelling medical evidence supporting these complaints, and used ‘confessions’ inadmissible as evidence under international law - their trial fell far short of international fair trial standards.
“We again urge the Iraqi authorities to declare a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty and to commute all death sentences. They must address the flaws in the Iraqi justice system, investigate claims of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, and, where applicable, grant re-trials in full compliance with fair trial standards,” said Hassiba Hadi Sahraoui.
The nine men were among a group of 11 sentenced to death by the First Branch of Anbar Criminal Court on August 8, 2010 after it convicted them under the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Law. The remaining two are reportedly still on death row.
Amnesty International recognizes the grave threat that armed groups continue to pose to the public security and order and the rule of law in Iraq. Hundreds of people continue to be killed every month in violent attacks by armed groups across Iraq. The organization condemns unreservedly the gross human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law that armed groups continue to commit. The Iraqi authorities have the duty and responsibility to bring perpetrators of serious human rights abuses to justice, without recourse to the death penalty. However, when doing so – the Iraqi authorities must comply at all times with Iraq’s obligations under international human rights law and protect the human rights of those they suspect or accuse of committing even the most heinous crimes. On September 21, 2013 scores of civilians were killed and injured in bomb attacks targeting mourners at a funeral in the Shi’a neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad. More people died the following day in a bomb attack on Sunni mourners in Baghdad.
Iraq is one of the world's most prolific executioners, with the government alleging the death penalty to be a tool in its battle against a high level of violence by armed groups. Hundreds of prisoners are on death row. In 2012 a sharp rise in executions was recorded in Iraq making it the country with the third highest number of executions in the world for that year. At least 129 people were executed, almost twice the known total for 2011. Since the beginning of 2013 at least 73 people, including two women, have been executed.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in August 2004, at least 520 people have been executed in Iraq. According to an Iraqi Ministry for Human Rights report published earlier this year, Iraqi criminal courts have pronounced more than 2,600 death sentences between 2004 and November 2012.