Iraq ― Human Rights Council ― Death Penalty ― Apr. 2014

The Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and the Iraqi Coalition Against the Death Penalty submitted a joint stakeholder report to the U.N. Human Rights Council for its October-November 2014 Universal Periodic Review of Iraq. This submission describes Iraq’s international human rights obligations with regard to its use of the death penalty.

Dramatically increasing since 2010, execution rates in Iraq are among the highest in the world, with more than 170 people put to death in 2013. In January 2014, at least 31 people were executed. These numbers do not include those who have died from abuse and torture in Iraq’s secret detention system.

Iraq’s high execution numbers are even more alarming given concerns related to unfair trial procedures, as well as a lack of transparency regarding court proceedings and the legal process in Iraq. Additionally, it appears many death sentences are based solely on confessions obtained through torture of the accused or the unchallenged testimony of anonymous informants, in clear violation of basic international human rights standards. There are also concerns that the rise in executions is motivated by increasing sectarian conflict and political calculation, given that the majority of those sentenced to death and executed are members of the Sunni Arab minority.

This submission strongly disagrees that an escalation in executions and death sentences is a proportionate, appropriate, or effective response to violence, given the fact that it has failed to halt a dramatic increase in civilian deaths in recent months and years. As such, this submission recom-
mends that Iraq immediately institute an official moratorium on executions, increase the transparency
of its criminal justice system, ensure those accused of terrorism offenses have access to counsel
at all stages of criminal proceedings, and ensure prompt and independent review of torture allegations
among other recommendations.