News150 Iraqi inmates face execution without fair trial: Human Rights Watch raises alarm

150 Iraqi inmates face execution without fair trial: Human Rights Watch raises alarm

Nasiriyah prison in Iraq, built with the help of the American army.
Nasiriyah prison in Iraq, built with the help of the American army.
Images source: © Picryl
10:48 AM EST, January 24, 2024

"Iraq should immediately declare a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. The renewal of mass executions in Iraq is an appalling development," stated Sarah Sanbar, an expert at Human Rights Watch.

The researcher pointed out that human rights abuses are prevalent within the Iraqi justice system. Irregularities and systemic flaws are well-documented. The gathered evidence indicates that many of the accused are deprived of the right to a fair trial.

On December 25, 2023, in a prison in An-Nasiriyah, 13 men were executed. This was the first mass execution since 2020 when 21 men were put to death on November 16. Human Rights Watch asserts that these executions were conducted without respect for the basic rights of those facing the death penalty.

A prisoner from An-Nasiriyah relayed to his lawyer that on the evening before this December execution, the names of the 13 men to be executed were announced through the prison speakers. Authorities removed them from their cells, and the sentence was executed in the morning. They were not allowed to contact their families or lawyers before the execution.

Iraq: Resumption of illegal mass executions

"We are in the dark about who will be targeted, when, and on what grounds. I don't even have access to my clients' files. I have been searching for months and reached out to all the courts in Iraq, but they all say they can't provide them to me," shared a lawyer for HRW who represented several inmates.

According to unverified data, about 8,000 prisoners in Iraq are on death row, largely accused of terrorist crimes. The An-Nasiriyah prison is ominously referred to as "the whale" by Iraqis because it swallows people and never releases them.

The widespread use of the death penalty raises serious concerns due to the substantial flaws in the Iraqi judicial system, especially in terrorism trials, which strip the accused of their right to a fair trial. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty under all circumstances due to its inherent cruelty and finality.

A man named al-Dulaimy told Human Rights Watch that his three brothers were sentenced to death under Iraqi anti-terrorism law and have been in prison since 2015. He alleges that his brothers were falsely accused of terrorism. They suffered torture, were compelled to sign false testimonies, endured beatings, and experienced extremely poor treatment in prison.

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