Executions rising rapidly in Iraq
Times Online
Nico Hines
April 20, 2007

Iraq has jumped to fourth place in the international executions list after a rapid rise in death penalty sentences last year, according to Amnesty.

Only China, Pakistan and Iran executed more people in 2006. Iraq killed at least 65, many of whom were convicted after unjust and unfair trials, said a report by Amnesty International today.

The death penalty was suspended in Iraq after the invasion by U.S. led forces in 2003 but it was reinstated by the Iraqi authorities in mid 2004. Since then more than 270 people have been sentenced to death and at least 100 of those have been executed, according to the report.

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was one of those hanged in 2006 and a video of the ex-President's demise was leaked and viewed all over the world. The footage showed Saddam being told to "go to hell" and people chanting the name of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia Muslim cleric, as the rope was secured around the his neck.

The leak of the footage and manner of the execution were condemned all over the world.

Amnesty International's UK Director Kate Allen said: "The world witnessed the squalid spectacle of Saddam Hussein's execution at the end of last year, but dozens of other people in Iraq have also been hanged after unfair trials.

"Instead of this Saddam-like thirst for vengeance and death, the Iraqi government should be doing its utmost to reinforce respect for life. It should start by imposing an immediate moratorium on all executions."

The death penalty was re-introduced in 2004, when the Iraqi government argued capital punishment was necessary to control the escalating violence in the country.

But Amnesty argue there has been no positive impact. "In the more than two years that have since elapsed, however, the extent of violence in Iraq has increased rather than diminished, clearly indicating that the death penalty has not proved to be an effective deterrent. If anything, it may have contributed to the continuing brutalization of Iraqi society," the report said.

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