Mass executions in Iraq under anti-terrorism laws of 'great concern', UN envoy says

Baghdad requests UN mission be terminated by end of 2025

Iraq frequently ranks among the world's most corrupt countries and activists say freedom of expression there has been curtailed in recent years. EPA
Powered by automated translation

The head of the UN mission in Iraq said on Thursday that a recent increase in mass executions of people convicted under antiterrorism laws was a cause for great concern.

Iraqi authorities this month executed 11 people by hanging who had been convicted of “terrorism”, according to AFP. They were the second such group put to death since late April.

“Power grabs or punitive policies may benefit one segment of society or community in the short term, but, in the end, everyone loses,” Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, special representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (Unami),told the Security Council.

“This is particularly true in a country with conflict in living memory.”

Ms Hennis-Plasschaert, who assumed her role in January 2018, warned that corruption and other issues remain in the country more than two decades since the UN mission was founded.

"The recent increase in mass unannounced executions ... is a cause for great concern," she said.

“Corruption, factionalism, impunity, undue interference and armed actors operating outside state control – while the [Iraqi] government is tackling these scourges, they still represent major hurdles to be overcome,” she stated.

“Dealing with the legacy of the past and the many challenges of the present will take time. But Iraq’s horizon is replete with opportunities.”

Iraq frequently ranks among the world's most corrupt countries and activists say freedom of expression there has been curtailed in recent years.

Ms Hennis-Plasschaert’s comments were part of her final briefing to the council in her current role, after she announced her resignation in February. She will step down at the end of May.

Last week, the Iraqi government announced its intention to terminate the UN mission by the end of 2025.

Baghdad spokesman Bassem Al Awadi explained that the move is consistent with the parliamentary-approved government programme and aims to reshape Iraq's interactions with international organisations, reflecting changes that have occurred since 2003.

Iraq's deputy UN representative Abbas Kadhom Obaid Al Fatlawi told council members the conditions for which the mission was created “no longer exist”.

In May last year, the Iraqi government submitted a request to the Security Council to limit the mandate of Unami and to conduct an objective evaluation to prepare for its final drawdown.

Mr Al Fatlawi thanked the global organisation for its role in supporting Iraq's stability and advancement, acknowledging the sacrifices of UN officials who lost their lives in the most lethal attack in the organisation's history more than 20 years ago.

A lorry bomb attack on August 19, 2003, on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, which served as the UN headquarters in Iraq, killed 22 staffers, including their chief, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Updated: May 16, 2024, 7:27 PM