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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

IRAQ: Condemnation of scheduled executions

BAGHDAD, 24 August 2005 (IRIN) - International human rights groups have condemned the passing down of the first death sentence in Iraq since US-led forces invaded the country in April 2003 and ousted former leader Saddam Hussein.

Three men will be executed in the first week of September, officials said.

The death penalty, which was used to punish criminals during Hussein’s regime, was abolished by US forces in 2003, but reinstated in August 2004 during the rule of former prime minister, Iyad Allawi.

The execution will take place in the city of Kut, 172km southeast of the capital, Baghdad, where three men, accused of the kidnapping and raping of women, will be hanged.

The three men are Bayan Ahmad al-Jaf, a 30-year-old Kurdish taxi driver, and two Sunni Arabs, Uday al-Dulaimi, a 25-year-old builder, and Taher Jassem, a 44-year-old butcher.

The decision, which Iraqi President Jalal Talabani reportedly refused to sign, was authorised by the Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi.

Human rights organisations and the United Nations have responded with indignation.

“In the process of transition that Iraq is experiencing, one should look at consolidating the right to life instead of imposing the death penalty which has a very poor recognised effect in deterring crimes,” Ashraf Qazi, the UN special representative in Iraq, said in a statement on 20 August. He added that he deeply regretted the decision.

A senior Ministry of Human Rights official, Ahmed Subhi, said that they believe the implementation of the death penalty was not a solution.

“You cannot treat crime with crime and this will be what happens if the Iraqi government accepts the execution of those three men in Kut,” he said.

Amnesty International also condemned the execution order, saying it was concerned that dozens of death sentences had been handed out in recent weeks and that in this case there was no difference between the time of Saddam and the present.

“We urge the Iraqi government to reconsider the death penalty case and prevent the death of those three men in the coming days. We condemn the death penalty whatever the crime and there are other humane procedures that can be carried out without the need of this aggressive form,” Middle East spokeswoman for Amnesty, Nicole Choueiry, told IRIN from their London headquarters.

Local human rights organisations also condemned the sentence, saying that Iraq's legal system needed to be updated.

The death penalty has not been included in a draft of the country’s new constitution, according to government sources.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Human Rights




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