Amnesty alarmed by Iraq executions

Report places Iraq as the world's fourth most frequent executioner.

    Amnesty International says Iraq had the fourth-highest total of executions in 2006 [AP]

    Stricter laws


    The death penalty was suspended after the US-led forces removed Saddam Hussein from power in 2003, but was reinstated when authority was handed over to Iraq's provisional government in August 2004.


    More than 270 people have since been sentenced to death and at least 100 people have been executed, the report said.


    Comparisons to the situation during Saddam's leadership were difficult because the Iraqi government obscured the number of people it sentenced to death, said Carsten Jurgensen, an Amnesty researcher on Iraq.


    "It was entirely predictable that the restoration of the death penalty would... perpetuate and exacerbate the abuse of human rights [in Iraq]"

    Amnesty International

    Read the Amnesty report

    But he said that in some cases the laws instituted by the new Iraqi government were more strict than those from Saddam's time.


    He cited laws which stipulate the death penalty for kidnappings and a wide variety of "terrorist" offences, even in cases in which no one is hurt or killed.


    Less protection


    For those accused of capital crimes, Iraq's justice system offered little protection against abuse, Jurgensen said.


    "People have been executed after trials that don't meet international standards," he said.


    "Obviously there have been prominent examples like Saddam Hussein, but then there have been all the other non-prominent cases, which hardly get mentioned anywhere."


    Some Iraqis were executed after making confessions on the Iraqi television show Terrorism in the Grip of Justice which was taken off the air in 2005, Amnesty said.


    Many of those appearing on the show bore signs of torture, the report said.


    Those sentenced to death by the supreme Iraqi criminal court can neither be pardoned nor have their sentence commuted, removing two protections usually afforded to those convicted in capital cases.


    The report said capital punishment had done nothing to deter violence in the country.


    "It was entirely predictable that the restoration of the death penalty would ... perpetuate and exacerbate the abuse of human rights and come to be seen, as in the case of Saddam Hussein's execution, as an instrument of vengeance far removed from any notions of justice," the report said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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