Human Rights Commissioner calls for suspension of death penalty in Iraq

03.02.2012 - Press release

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Markus Löning, issued the following statement today (3 February) on the rising number of executions in Iraq:

“The rising number of executions in Iraq since the beginning of the year is alarming. In January 2012 alone, 51 people were executed. This is a dramatic increase over 2011, when the entire year saw only 68 executions.
The usual method of execution is hanging. Due process of law is rarely administered by the courts. Convictions are often the result of confessions made under duress or torture. In many cases, the accused are denied legal counsel for the length of the investigation.
I appeal to those in positions of responsibility in Iraq to implement a moratorium and thus follow the global trend towards abolishing capital punishment. Iraq is isolating itself through its current practice.”

Iraq justifies many of the death sentences which it carries out through the involvement of the convicted in serious attacks. The Iraqi side has stated that no fewer than 11 death sentences had to be seen in the context of the attack on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in August 2009, which claimed hundreds of lives.

Capital punishment was abolished after the Saddam regime was ousted, but was reinstated on 8 August 2004, with the precarious security situation cited as a reason. The new Government likewise refuses to heed the UN recommendation to do away with the death penalty. Capital punishment is handed down in Iraq for, among other things, first-degree murder, anti-government activities, rape and the use of chemical weapons. In October 2005 the Iraqi parliament enacted a bill which includes terrorist activities among the crimes punishable by death.

Persons indicted for terrorist activities under the Iraqi anti-terrorism law are not eligible for legal counsel for the time of the investigation. Moreover, the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) reports cases of suspects accused of terrorist crimes who were not even allowed a trial lawyer in court.

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