[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] on Tuesday condemned [press release] Iraq’s execution of 34 individuals, including two women, last week. All 34 executions occurred on a single day for crimes described as terrorism-related offenses [Iraq Ministry of Justice, in Arabic]. Iraq maintains the death penalty for even non-fatal crimes, but there has been no report of a single case in which the death penalty was pardoned, according to Pillay:
The total number of individuals sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004 is believed to stand at more than 1,200. The total number actually executed since then is not known, although at least 63 individuals are thought to have been executed in the past two months alone (since 16 November). There are around 48 crimes for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, including a number of non-fatal crimes such as—under certain circumstances—damage to public property.
Iraq’s current system of death penalty and its far-reaching coverage of offenses that are subject to death penalty creates doubt on the due process and fairness of trials in the country. The High Commissioner urged the government to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
In 2007, the UN General Assembly [official website] approved a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium [JURIST report] on the death penalty. The resolution was reaffirmed twice by resolutions A/RES/63/168 and A/RES/65/206 [materials] in 2008 and 2010, respectively. It was criticized by countries [JURIST report] that supported the use of death penalty [JURIST news archive], alleging that the resolution would infringe nations’ sovereignty. Iraq, one of the countries that did not implement the moratorium, has been subject to criticism for violating various human rights including unlawfully detaining and repeatedly torturing thousands of detainees without warrants [JURIST reports].