IRAQ: PILLAY CONDEMNS RAMPANT USE OF DEATH PENALTY
April 19, 2013: the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, condemned the 16 April execution of 21 individuals, and said she was appalled by reports that the Ministry of Justice has announced that a further 150 people may be executed in the coming days. She stressed that the justice system in the country was âtoo seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time.â âExecuting people in batches like this is obscene,â Pillay said. âIt is like processing animals in a slaughterhouse. The criminal justice system in Iraq is still not functioning adequately, with numerous convictions based on confessions obtained under torture and ill-treatment, a weak judiciary and trial proceedings that fall short of international standards. The application of the death penalty in these circumstances is unconscionable, as any miscarriage of justice as a result of capital punishment cannot be undone.â
The High Commissioner emphasized the need for transparency and stringent respect of due process. She called on the Government âto halt executions, conduct a credible and independent review of all death row cases and disclose information on the number and identity of death row prisoners, the charges and judicial proceedings brought against them, and the outcome of the review of their cases.â
Pillay said she was pleased to note that one part of Iraq â the Kurdistan Region â is already upholding an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty, and urged the central Government to follow suit and heed the repeated calls by the international community to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to the abolition of the death penalty in accordance with repeated UN General Assembly Resolutions.
âI am the first to argue there must never be impunity for serious crimes. But at least if someone is jailed for life, and it is subsequently discovered there was a miscarriage of justice, he or she can be released and compensated,â Pillay said. (Sources: www.unog.ch, 19/04/2013)