Iraq urged to commute death sentences as 11 are hanged

November 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Iraq urged to commute death sentences as 11 are hanged

Posted: 17 November 2011

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=19809

 

The Iraqi authorities must commute all death sentences and ensure   verdicts are not based on forced confessions involving torture, Amnesty   International said today, after 11 people convicted of terrorism-related   offences were hanged in Baghdad.

The execution of the 11, including one woman, took place yesterday in   spite of attempts by the Tunisian authorities to obtain a pardon for a   Tunisian national, Yosri Trigui, who was sentenced to death for his alleged   involvement in an attack against the al-‘Askari Shi’a Muslim Shrine in   Samarra in 2006. The attack sparked an eruption of sectarian violence.

Trigui, who had been living in Iraq since 2003, was arrested in 2006   by US forces for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts. He was also   convicted of the killing of a female Iraqi journalist from the Al Arabiya TV   channel, Atwar Bahjat.

 Amnesty has previously voiced concern that Trigui’s   trial did not appear to meet international standards.

Meanwhile, a further 10 people are reportedly due to be executed in   Iraq today.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Acting Director   Philip Luther said:

“While the Iraqi government has   the right to bring to justice those responsible for serious crimes, the death   penalty violates the right to life and should not be used in any case.

“Given the appalling state of   Iraq’s justice system, it is questionable whether these 11 people received a   fair trial.

“Iraq must immediately commute   the death sentences of the hundreds of people remaining on death row in the   country. The authorities must also ensure that trials meet international   standards for fair trial, and are not based on confessions extracted under   torture and other ill-treatment.”

Trials in Iraq consistently fall short of international standards for   fair trials. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), established by the   Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003 after the US-led military invasion of   the country, is the main criminal court, which handles crimes relating to   terrorism, sectarian violence, organised crime and government corruption. The   court has handed down the vast majority of death sentences.

Defendants in Iraq frequently complain that “confessions” are   extracted under torture and other ill-treatment during pre-trial   interrogation, often when they were held incommunicado in police stations or   in detention. Defendants are often not brought before an investigative judge   within a reasonable time and not told of the reason for their arrest.   “Confessions” extracted from them are often used as evidence against them at   their trials and accepted by the courts without taking any or adequate steps   to investigate defendants’ allegations of torture. Such “confessions” have   also frequently been broadcast on the Iraqi government-controlled satellite   TV station Al Iraqiya. This practice undermines the presumption of innocence,   which is a fundamental human right.

Trial proceedings before the CCCI are very brief, often lasting only a   few minutes before verdicts are handed down.

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