Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] criticized [press release] the state of justice in Iraq on Thursday after a court in that country sentenced 40 men to death. The Baghdad court found the men guilty of being Sunni jihadists and allied militants that carried out a massacre of 1,700 military cadets from the Speicher Military camp by the Islamic State in June 2014. The men are sentenced to death by hanging under Iraq’s anti-terrorism law that states [Global Post report] that anyone who “perpetrates, incites, plans, finances or assists acts of terrorism will be sentenced to death”. The 40 death sentences brings the total sentenced to death in 2016 to 92 death sentences in six weeks. The advocacy organization called on Iraqi authorities to halt the ratification of death sentences and to establish a moratorium on executions. AI’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director said that, “[t]he vast majority of the trials have been grossly unfair, with many of the defendants claiming to have been tortured into ‘confessing’ the crimes. These allegations must be urgently investigated and a re-trial that meets international fair trial standard should be ordered.”
The use of the death penalty remains controversial worldwide. In 2014 UN officials called on the government of Iraq to impose a moratorium on the death penalty [JURIST report] in response to a significant rise in executions since the country restored capital punishment in 2005. Last month AI reported on the many juvenile offenders [JURIST report] on death row in Iran. The report stated that 73 executions of juvenile offenders took place between 2005 and 2015 and that 160 juvenile offenders are currently on death row. Last year AI said that use of the death penalty in Pakistan [JURIST report] was undergoing a “disturbing and dangerous” escalation after the execution of two men convicted of non-terrorism offenses.