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September 18 2009 | IRAQ


Stop executions, Amnesty urges. More than 1000 people now on death row and one the highest execution rate in the world.

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 1 SET - Amnesty International chiede l'interruzione della pena capitale in Iraq. ''L'uso della pena di morte in Iraq non e' trasparente'' scrive in un rapporto l'organizzazione per la tutela dei diritti umani, che denuncia la corruzione del sistema giudiziario iracheno e le torture subite da molti detenuti durante gli interrogatori.

   ''A luglio piu' di mille prigionieri si trovavano nel braccio della morte, fra cui 12 donne'', afferma scrive Amnesty.

   Nessuna fonte ufficiale irachena ha commentato, ma un responsabile del governo, con l'assicurazione dell'anonimato, avrebbe confermato le cifre: ''piu' di 800 persone condannate a morte e in media dieci esecuzioni a settimana''.

   Secondo Amnesty nel 2008 l'Iraq ha pronunciato 285 condanne a morte, di cui 34 eseguite. Questi numeri farebbero dell'Iraq il secondo Paese al mondo per esecuzioni capitali dopo la Cina, che nel 2008 ha mandato a morte 1700 persone.

  In Iraq le esecuzioni furono sospese nel 2003, dopo la destituzione di Saddam Hussein, ma l'anno successivo furono reintrodotte.

   ''Invece che impiccare centinaia di persone, le autorita' irachene dovrebbero fermare tutte le esecuzioni e attuare un'immediata moratoria'' ha detto Tim Hancock, direttore dell'ufficio britannico di Amnesty.


The Media Line

Iraq Death Sentences Increasing

More than 1000 people are on death row in Iraq, and the country has one of the highest execution rates in the world, says Amnesty International  Iraq has more than 1,000 people on death row, 150 of whom have exhausted all legal channels and are at serious risk of being hanged, Amnesty International has said.

 The death penalty in Iraq was suspended following the U.S.-led invasion by the interim Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in June 2003, but was reinstated a year later when the Iraqi interim government replaced the CPA.

 Amnesty International opposes the death penalty, but the organization says the situation in Iraq is particularly severe as the judicial system leading to the sentences lacks transparency.

 "We know that the majority of the sentences are passed in unfair trials," Nicole Choueiry, a press officer at Amnesty International told The Media Line.

 "These are trials that do not meet international standards," she said.

"We know that in many of these trials torture is used as a method to extract confessions and these confessions are later used as evidence in court which helps the process of handing down the sentence. This is not just in one or two cases. This is a pattern."  Amnesty International said that in contravention of international law, the Iraqi judiciary system did not provide defendants with the right to choose the defense council of their choice.

 The organization pointed to 27-year old Samar Saad Abdallah, who in August 2005 was sentenced to death in a Baghdad court and is awaiting execution. She was found guilty of murdering her uncle, his wife and one of their children but claims innocence and says her fiancé carried out the murders in order to rob her uncle.

 Samar’s father, Saad Abdel Majid Abd Al-Karim, said he and his family visit her in jail every 15 days, but have lost hope.

 "She’s very tired and scared, and she cries a lot." he told The Media Line. "The trial wasn’t fair. Samar is 100 percent innocent.

 "Money and bribes are what rules there," he said. "I’ve sold all my things, I sold the apartment and the car for the lawyer."  According to Amnesty, 19 people were executed in Iraq on June 10 alone. This information was leaked, however, and not officially announced to the media, highlighting the silence surrounding the practice.

 While the Iraqi authorities justify the application of the death penalty in order to act as a deterrent, Amnesty says this tactic is simply not working because violence has continued since the death penalty was restored.

 "Amnesty does not believe the death penalty can or should be used as a deterrent to reduce the amount of violence," Choueiry said.

 Under Saddam Hussein many people were executed for activities such as political dissent, or opposing Saddam and his Ba’ath party. Because this was shrouded in secrecy, it is impossible to draw a comparison between the situation that prevailed then and the situation now, because there is no accurate data.

 The Iraqi penal code prescribes the death penalty for offences that include premeditated murder, crimes compromising the security of the state, attacks on transportation that result in fatalities, coup attempts and damaging public property among many other offenses.

 The 1,000 people who are currently on death row is a low estimate, Choueiry says, and the true numbers are likely t be a lot higher, since there is little transparency on this matter.

 "News on executions, which we know are taking place, but we don’t know the exact numbers, are not coming from the Iraqi authorities and it’s something that Amnesty has been calling for," she said.

 Choueiry added that the organization was demanding to be given information on names and details of the people facing execution, including the circumstances under which they were sentenced, but the information provided has been scant.


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