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After the Baghdad attack, first executions and hundreds pending

These are executions which confirm the fears of human rights defenders after pledges given by the presidency for strong acts following an attack in Baghdad. Three men sentenced for “Terrorism” were hanged on Monday January 25 in Iraq.

On Sunday, a presidential official claimed that “More than 340 execution orders for criminal acts or terrorism” had been ratified but not implemented so far, which could lead to hangings at any time.

The next day, a source within the security services said that three Iraqis convicted of “Terrorism” had been hanged in the prison of Nassiriya (south), where are sent all the condemned to death of the country.

Read also: Baghdad attack that killed more than 30 has been claimed by IS

Three hundred and forty executions since 2014

To carry out an execution, the prison administration must obtain an order ratified by the presidency. The 340 or so documents signed have been signed since 2014, the vast majority when Fouad Maassoum was in power, at the worst of the breakthrough of the jihadist organization Islamic State (IS), according to another presidential official.

Ratifications have ” keep on going “ under the mandate (started in 2018) of Barham Saleh, known to be opposed to the death penalty, reported the first official cited. If Iraq carried out in 2019 more than one in seven executions in the world – that is to say 100 convicts hanged in one year -, it is customary of executions in the wake of an attack that shocked the public.

Former Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi struck hard in June 2018 by executing thirteen jihadists and publishing photos of the hangings for the first time, to calm criticism of his lack of firmness after the assassination of eight civilians by the ‘EI.

Read also Baghdad refuses to surrender to ISIS

“Political tool”

An attack claimed by ISIS killed 32 people on Thursday in a busy Baghdad market, causing shock among a population accustomed to relative tranquility since ISIS’s military defeat in Iraq at the end of 2017. The announcement of the presidency is therefore, notes Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch, further proof that “The death penalty is a political tool”.

“Leaders use these kinds of announcements to tell people that they are doing something for them, regardless of the fact that the trials are flawed. “

Since the attack on Thursday, Mr. Saleh has been accused on social networks of “Not apply the sentences” against jihadist prisoners. A demonstration was also announced for Tuesday in Nassiriya, in order to demand “The death of jihadists and revenge after the attacks”.

Caught between a public opinion demanding revenge and political, security and judicial apparatuses incapable of stopping the attacks, “Iraq still finds itself with limited options”, explains Ali Bayati, member of the government human rights commission.

“The death penalty is legal and we don’t have a de-radicalization center, so some jihadists are turning prisons into recruitment centers. “

Eleven French await their execution

For the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, there is in Iraq “Frequent violations of the rights to a fair trial, ineffective legal representation, too much reliance on confessions and numerous accusations of torture and ill-treatment”. So the application of the death penalty is more “Arbitrary deprivation of life by the state”, she reacted at the end of 2020.

The international community campaigned in November after the execution of 21 convicts, almost all for “Terrorism”. No executions have been reported since, but not all have been officially announced.

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In 2020, Agence France-Presse became aware of around thirty executions. Iraq is the fourth most executing country behind China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International.

For several years, Iraqi courts have ordered hundreds of death sentences and life sentences because the penal code provides for a sentence to death for anyone who has joined “A terrorist group”whether or not the accused fought in his ranks. So far, none of the IS foreigners sentenced to death in Iraq have been hanged, but eleven French and one Belgian are currently awaiting execution.

The World with AFP

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