Iraq hangs 13 men convicted mainly on terrorism charges, says official

Country has shrugged off calls from human rights groups to reconsider capital punishment

Iraqi police in Baghdad. EPA
Powered by automated translation

On Monday Iraq executed 13 prisoners convicted of mostly terrorism-related charges, the spokesman of the Justice Ministry told The National on Thursday.

Eleven of these were “ISIS operatives and convicted of terrorism”, Ahmed Luaibi said, adding that they were involved in attacks against security forces, bombings, car bomb attacks and assassinations.

The two others were sentenced for other crimes, Mr Luaibi added.

"All death sentences were finalised and ratified by the Iraqi President," he said.

The prisoners were executed by hanging in the southern Iraqi province of Thi Qar, another official said.

The province is the home to Al Hoot prison where some of Iraq's most dangerous criminals are detained, including ISIS militants and officials from the government of Saddam Hussein.

The latest executions have set off fresh criticism from the human rights watchdog Amnesty International over Baghdad’s insistence on enforcing capital punishment.

“The Iraqi authorities must immediately halt all executions,” the UK-based organisation said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that they were convicted on “overly broad and vague terrorism charges”.

“Iraq’s recent executions are alarming and disheartening. For years, a legacy of human rights violations and abuses have plagued Iraq’s justice system, landing thousands on death row after grossly unfair trials,” said Razaw Salihy, Amnesty International’s Iraq Researcher.

Ms Salihy added that executions carried out after trials "that don’t meet international human rights standards may amount to arbitrary deprivation of life".

After the US-led invasion in 2003, coalition officials suspended Iraq’s death penalty, but it was reinstated in 2004 by Iraq’s transitional government.

Human rights groups have questioned trial procedures in Iraqi courts, alleging that some verdicts are based on evidence obtained by torture or forced statements against the accused. International observers worry that the legal process is faulty and that some trials are politically motivated.

In summer 2014, ISIS overran large parts of Iraq and Syria, declaring a caliphate that spanned parts of both countries.

Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led international coalition, reclaimed all the territory held by ISIS in Iraq in late 2017, after three years of fighting.

However, the terrorist group still carries out hit-and-run attacks, particularly in the vast desert regions of northern and western Iraq, near the border with Syria.

Since the group's defeat, Iraqi authorities have put hundreds of ISIS fighters on trial. Legal and security authorities have not issued specific numbers on how many ISIS fighters have been executed or are on death row.

Updated: April 25, 2024, 12:33 PM