United Nations human rights chief today described the execution of 34 people in Iraq as ‘shocking’ news.
Iraq’s execution included two women, last week. All 34 executions occurred on a single day for crimes described as terrorism-related offenses.
Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on Iraq to institute an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
“Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day.” -High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
She noted that given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure,” she added.
The 34 individuals were executed on 19 January following their conviction for various crimes.
The total number of individuals sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004 is believed to stand at more than 1,200. The total number actually executed since then is not known, although at least 63 individuals are thought to have been executed in the past two months alone (since 16 November). There are around 48 crimes for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, including a number of non-fatal crimes such as-under certain circumstances-damage to public property.
Iraq’s current system of death penalty and its far-reaching coverage of offenses that are subject to death penalty creates doubt on the due process and fairness of trials in the country.
The High Commissioner urged the government to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
She called on the Government to implement an immediate moratorium on the institution of death penalty. She added that around 150 countries have now either abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, or introduced a moratorium.
The High Commissioner also urged the Government “to halt all executions and, as a matter of urgency, review the cases of those individuals currently on death row.”