Iraq - Human Rights Committee - Death Penalty - June 2020

The Advocates for Human Rights, together with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, submitted a suggested list of issues report related to the death penalty for the 129th Session of the Human Rights Committee. This report focuses on Iraq’s use of the death penalty.

 

Executions are on the rise in Iraq; from 2018 to 2019, the number of individuals executed nearly doubled. In 2019, Iraq executed at least 100 people. Crimes eligible for the death penalty include murder, arson, rape, treason, kidnapping, drug trafficking for the purposes of funding or abetting insurgency, espionage, and any charge related to terrorism. Iraq’s aggressive Anti-Terrorism law authorizes the use of the death penalty for terrorism-related charges regardless of the severity of the offense or any mitigating circumstances. For example, cooks and drivers for alleged terrorists have been put to death.

Access to adequate legal council is restricted, especially in cases related to terrorism. Defense attorneys often have overwhelming caseloads and are often absent from interrogations and court hearings. Torture and other forms of ill-treatment are commonly reported, yet judges do not have a legal mandate to follow up on such accusations.

To conclude this report, the Advocates and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty offer a list of suggested questions to the Government of Iraq regarding the use of the death penalty. Some of these suggestions include:

  • What steps have Iraqi authorities taken to reduce the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty and to limit the availability of the death penalty to the most serious” crimes in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • What procedures exist when a defendant in a criminal proceeding alleges having been tortured or otherwise ill-treated? What measures are taken to hold persons who commit acts of torture accountable and to compensate victims of torture?
  • What concrete measures is the government taking to ensure respect for the rights of defendants to a fair trial and adequate legal representation?
  • How does the judiciary ensure that defense counsel in terrorism-related cases is able to present all relevant mitigating evidence and that courts consider all evidence that warrants a sentence other than death?