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UN rights chief condemns Iraq execution practices

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday condemned [press release] Iraq's execution of 21 prisoners this week, urging the country's compliance with international human rights obligations. Pillay expressed dismay with the numbers of executions carried out in Iraq, noting that the country's criminal justice system continues to "fall short of international standards." Iraq executed 129 prisoners last year and has 1,400 more prisoners waiting on death row. Pillay urged Iraqi authorities to stop all executions and perform an evaluation of death penalty proceedings in the country.

Iraq has sparked international controversy over its use of executions and other human rights concerns. The 21 individuals who were executed earlier this week [JURIST report] by the Iraqi Justice Ministry were convicted of terrorism. Last week Iraq announced plans to reform [JURIST report] its de-Baathification laws to allow former members of Saddam Hussein's regime to serve in the public sector. De-Baathification is a controversial subject that should be approached with caution [JURIST op-ed], according to a recent JURIST op-ed by Professor Haider Ala Hamoudi. In February, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] Iraq Kurdistan for detaining and persecuting journalists.

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