Tuesday 25 September 2012 by Michael Cross, in Erbil, Iraq
A spate of executions in Iraq has raised new fears about the conduct of justice in the strife-torn country. The country's justice ministry has announced nearly 100 hangings so far in 2012, including 26 in two days in August alone.
According to campaigners Human Rights Watch, all the executed were convicted on charged 'related to terrorism' but few details about their identities or the charges were released.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said: 'The lack of transparency around these convictions and executions, in a country where confessions that may have been coerced are often the only evidence against a person, makes it crucial for Iraq to declare an immediate moratorium on all executions.'
Iraq is fourth only to China, Iran and Saudi Arabia in the number of people it executes each year. However a de-facto moratorium already exists in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, where the president, Massoud Barzani, has declined to sign death warrants since agreeing a separate jurisdiction, the region's chief justice, Ahmad Zuber, told the Gazette.
European experts advising the Baghdad government on the rule of law in Iraq say they cannot intervene directly in questions of capital punishment. 'Of course we convey the European message but we are not a political mission,' Laszlo Huszar, head of the European Union Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq, told the Gazette.