| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Iraq: Half of 50,000 Prisoners Are Sentenced to Death

The Iraqi Ministry of Justice has been seeking to resolve the thorny issue of prisons, in what should be a democratic system, where human rights occupy first priority.

Despite criminal acts, especially premeditated murder, law enforcement remains week mainly in the presence of clans and armed “non-state actors” with strong influence.

For the first time, the Ministry of Justice announced shocking data regarding the total number of prisoners in the country, including those facing death sentence and who mainly belong to terrorist organizations, including ISIS.

In a statement, the ministry said: “The number of convicted terrorists we have is more than 50,000 prisoners; half of them on death row.”

International organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have issued a sharp criticism of the human rights situation in Iraq, especially in terms of the death sentences against convicts, the majority of whom belong to ISIS. On the other hand, several political parties criticize the presidency for failing to execute the death sentences.

This controversy began during the tenure of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who has refused to sign execution orders, and continued during the terms of Fouad Masum and incumbent Barham Salih.

Ironically, when Talabani was rejecting capital punishment at the time, he authorized former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to sign the execution of late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi law requires the president approve capital punishment. Both Masum and Salih refrained from issuing such decrees unless all litigation procedures were completed, including re-investigation and appeal, which led to an increase in the number of prisoners, detainees and convicts.

Legal expert Ahmed Al-Abadi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the death sentences against the accused, whether terrorists or non-terrorists, pass through a number of stages of appeal, starting with the verdict of the Criminal Court.

“All these procedures take years,” he continued.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat