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UN expert urges Iraq to suspend use of death penalty

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Leandro Despouy [official website] Tuesday urged Iraq to stop carrying out death sentences [press release], saying that the use of capital punishment despite threats of violence against the judiciary and the continued lack of independent tribunals and adequate defense counsel violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [texts]. Despouy specifically urged the Iraqi government to not execute Mahmoud Sa'eed, the confessed co-conspirator in the August 2003 Canal Hotel bombing [Wikipedia backgrounder] that killed 22 people, saying that Sa'eed's conviction was illegal given the continued lack of due process.

In April, Amnesty International reported that more than 270 people have been sentenced to death [JURIST report] in Iraq since 2005, and more than 100 have actually been executed. The report [text] found that Iraq's execution rate ranked as the world's forth highest since the reinstatement of the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. Iraqi officials have consistently dismissed criticisms of the country's use of capital punishment, saying that the death penalty is a fundamental component of implementing Islamic law. The UN News Service has more.

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