24 October 2020
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Iraq has executed 100 since January, 8,000 on death row

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 04:03
Four men who were hanged in Iraq. Photo: AP Four men who were hanged in Iraq. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region ⁠— More than 100 individuals have been executed in Iraq since January, with a staggering 8,000 more on death row, according to Iraq's UN-approved human rights body.

The execution figures came from Iraqi Ministry of Justice data that was reviewed by the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, according to one commission member.

"According to the data of the Iraqi Justice Ministry that have been reviewed by the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, over 100 people have been executed in Iraq," Hemin Bajalan told Rudaw English on Sunday. "There are 8,022 prisoners in Iraq convicted with execution."

Iraq has one of the highest rates of execution in the world, and is ranked in the top four along with Iran, Saudi Arabia and China, according to Human Rights Watch's 2019 report, which documented the year prior.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government has not made public the number of executions it carried out this year, according to the watchdog.

"Iraqi authorities handed down hundreds of death sentences to those convicted under counterterrorism legislation and carried out executions without publicizing any official numbers or sharing this information with international actors," Human Rights Watch report read. 

The trials were also rushed and were sometimes based on a single confession or missing victims' testimonies, according to the report.

The 100 plus figure marks a big increase in Iraqi executions. In 2018, more than 52 recorded executions took place in Iraq, according to a report from Amnesty International. 

The more than 8,000 people with death sentences is also a striking increase from 2018. At the end of that year, Amnesty reported that there were more than 285 people with death sentence.

Iraqi security forces captured Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS) in late 2017, and subsequently put its alleged members and affiliates on trial. The US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria have also transferred hundreds of ISIS fighters into Iraqi custody. 

Iraq is known to have conducted fast trials for ISIS members, often without sufficient evidence.

One member of parliament said Iraq is asking Western countries to take back their citizens who joined ISIS.

"There are many foreign ISIS fighters in Iraqi prisons, and Iraq is frequently demanding the western countries to take back their citizens who are Daesh militants," Bakhtiyar Shawis, a member of the parliament's human rights committee, told Rudaw English, referring to ISIS by its Arabic acronym.

Shawis said Iraq is currently negotiating with some countries on the repatriation of ISIS fighters. Parliament, however, has yet to deliberate on the issue, according to him.

"We have not discussed the execution issue in the parliament until now," said Shawis.

There are 26 prisons throughout Iraq that contain at least 37,113 prisoners. Of those, 18,306 are imprisoned on terrorism charges, according to an August report by the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.

Two officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Justice Rudaw spoke to declined to discuss the execution figures.

In the Kurdistan Region, Sulaimani authorities confirmed in May that they executed an ISIS militant from Baghdad after he was detained in Kirkuk in May.

'Bad conditions'

At present, there is not enough room in the Iraqi penal system to accommodate all those locked up, according to Bajalan.

"Due to the bad conditions prisons in Iraq are facing, the prisoners are finding it difficult to fit into one prison," he said. "For that reason, Iraq should deliver more facilities to the prisons."

Other observers have noted poor conditions in Iraqi prisons as well. According to a July report also by Human Rights Watch, prisons in the Nineveh province feature overcrowding and "degrading conditions." Some of the prisons in Nineveh are supposed to house a maximum capacity of 2,500 people, but are holding around 4,500 prisoners and detainees. Women and children are among those in the prisons, according to the organization.

Nineveh police have denied inhumane conditions in the prisons and rejected the Human Rights Watch report, calling it "not true."

Iraqi lawmakers visited the prisons in July, and described the overcrowding and conditions there as "tragic" and "catastrophic." 

Source: Rudaw.net

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