Friday, April 20, 2007

Iraq - Fourth Highest Executioner in the World.

Iraq is now the fourth highest executioner in the world, Amnesty International has said.

Only three countries, China, Iran and Pakistan carry out the death penalty more frequently, the London-based human rights organisation said in a new report.

Since it was reinstated in 2004, the use of the death penalty had increased "rapidly", with more than 270 people sentenced to death and at least 100 people reportedly executed, it said.

"This represents a profoundly retrograde step. One that should not be overlooked simply because far larger numbers of lives have been lost due to ongoing violence," the report said.

The death penalty had been suspended after the US-led coalition entered in 2003. Although there were no executions reported in 2004, there were three men executed in 2005. Last year that figure rose dramatically, with at least 65 people, including two women, reportedly executed by hanging, the report revealed.

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and three of his associates were among those who were handed the death sentence at the end of 2006.

At the time Amnesty International said the executions were carried out after a trial which "failed to meet international fair trial standards, and an appeal process which was fundamentally flawed".

The group says in the report it is concerned that, in addition to these high profile cases, the death penalty is being increasingly imposed following "unfair trials before other Iraqi criminal courts, including the Central Criminal Court of Iraq".

The report said two protections often given to those convicted of serious crimes were being denied in Iraq, with those sentenced to death by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Court could neither be pardoned nor have their sentence commuted.

The report said capital punishment had done nothing to deter the violence roiling the country. "It was entirely predictable that the restoration of the death penalty would perpetuate and exacerbate the abuse of human rights and come to be seen, as in the case of Saddam Hussein's execution, as an instrument of vengeance far removed from any notions of justice."


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