THE DEATH PENALTY AND MORE UNDER SADDAM HUSSEIN

01 January 1999 :

IRAQ
Retentionist
Political system: authoritarian regime (power is effectively wielded by the Council of the Revolution Command chaired by President Saddam Hussein)
Constitution: 16 July 1970; new Constitution drafted in 1990 has not yet come into force
Legal system: based on Islamic law in special religious courts, civil law system elsewhere
Legislative system: unicameral National Assembly (Majlis al-Watani) In North Iraq there is a Kurdish Parliament elected in 1992, which does not recognize the Iraqi Government and requests the setting up of a federal state
Judicial system: Court of Cassation
Religion: 61% Shia; 30% Sunni; Christian and other minorities
Methods of execution: beheading, hanging and shooting
Executions in 2002: at least 214 (mainly according to Iraqi opposition sources)
International treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
FACTS
Legal framework governing the death penalty
The death penalty has been in force in the Iraqi legal system since 1921, following the foundation of the Iraqi State in 1920. Its field of application has been increasingly extended since the taking of power by the Baath party in 1968 and since 1979, the year marking the beginning of Saddam Hussein´s presidency. There are several special courts in Iraq run by the country´s diverse security services. Their rulings cannot be appealed and defendants are not allowed access to lawyers. Numerous emergency measures which were established, including the death penalty, were to be provisional, but have endured for years. The latest death penalty decrees were reported by the Iraqi Communist Party newspaper Tariq al-Sha´b on February 11 this year. The new capital offences prescribe the death penalty for Air Defence Force personnel who leave their unit when it is under bombardment, reveal secrets and information on casualties to people outside their unit, spread rumours and other offences. These decrees were reportedly issued by the military bureau of the ruling Baath party and signed by Saddam Hussein´s younger son Qusay. The extra judicial executions committed by the leadership and the various sections of the Baath party in the military and security structures, generally under the direct and personal orders of the president himself or those to whom he delegates such authority, are always presented in the frame of an emergency state. However, Iraq, at least since 1980, has consistently lived in that state (Iran-Iraq war, invasion of Kuwait, Gulf War and embargo). A large number of death penalty convictions were put into effect through laws and decrees enacted by the Council of the Revolution Command (CCR) which represents the supreme legislative authority of the regime and whose decisions have the force of law. In many cases and due to the secrets surrounding of the proceedings, it is not possible to establish whether they concern judicial or extra judicial executions. It is important to note that the proportionality of the sentence according to the seriousness of the offences does not exist in Iraq. The promulgation of the death penalty for many offences, including non violent ones, (theft, desertion, etc.) is contrary to Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.The Iraqi penal code sentences to the death penalty : anyone attempting to murder the president (article 223); any person who carries out political activities outside of the Baath party in power, such as becoming a member of the Baath party without previously having informed it of a previous membership of other parties, maintaining relations with a previous party or leaving the Baath party to join another party (article 200); the authors of offences such as membership of a party or an organization created in order to overthrow the regime (article 156) or to plot against the State (article 175); persons who seek refuge abroad, who join opponents to the regime and who reveal State secrets (including reports on the human rights situation). On March 31, 1980, Saddam Hussein signed decree 461 which sentences to capital punishment all members of the Al Dawa Islamic Party, without distinction of age (under 18 or old people). The decrees established by the CCR punish with the death penalty offences committed for a "despicable and selfish motive", car theft (decree 13/92), money forging (decree 9/93), falsification of documents relative to military service. Decree 95 provides the death penalty "for anyone (passing) illegally an automobile outside of Iraq or (passing secretly) an automobile to a hostile member". In early June 1994, the Iraqi government published a list of decrees which establish harsh punishments such as amputation, branding and the death penalty for 18 different offences. These include theft (decree 59); corruption; speculation on currency; embezzlement; forging and falsification of documents, in particular for the persons belonging to the army or for civil servants (decrees 91, 114); trade of prohibited goods: trafficking of antiques; prostitution (decree 1418); avoidance of the draft or desertion of the army on three occasions. For these two last offences, the accused are tried by special courts belonging to the ministries of Defence and Internal Affairs. It should be noted that the networks of antiques trafficking and prostitution belong to the two sons of Saddam Hussein: Uday and Qusay.